The Australian Council of Social Service has released a new report showing an estimated 2.2 million Australians are living in poverty.
The report provides the most comprehensive picture of poverty in the nation since 2006. It shows that people who are unemployed, children (especially in lone parent families), and people whose main source of income is social security payments are the groups most at risk of poverty.
‘This report reveals that despite years of unprecedented growth and wealth creation, we have made little ground in combatting the scourge of poverty with 1 in 8 people overall and 1 in 6 children living below the poverty line,’ said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie.
‘In a wealthy country like Australia, this is simply inexcusable.
‘Over a third (37%) of people whose main income is social security is living below the poverty line, including 52% of people in households on Newstart Allowance.
‘The low level of this payment means that when unemployment goes up as it did last month, more people are thrown into poverty. The Newstart Allowance has not been increased in real terms since 1994 so households relying on it have been falling further behind community living standards and into poverty.
‘Two thirds of people on Newstart have been unemployed for more than a year and they clearly need more help than they are getting now from employment services. The Government only funds Job Services Australia providers an average of $500 to $1,100 a year to invest in training and work experience for this group.
‘The report also shows that there are almost 600,000 children living in families below the poverty line. About half of those children are in sole parent families, and one quarter of people in sole parent families are living below the poverty line.
‘At the start of Anti-Poverty Week, ACOSS is calling on the Federal Government to finally commit to a national development goal to reduce poverty in Australia.
‘It is simply unacceptable that so many people are still going without the basics and the sorts of opportunities the rest of us take for granted. A wealthy country such as ours can and should do better to ensure that everyone is afforded an adequate standard of living. It is a fundamental human right,’ Dr Goldie said.
Read the ACOSS media release, One in eight people living in poverty in Australia
Download the ACOSS report, Poverty in Australia