Australians who rely on welfare to survive are still unable to meet the cost of living, a recent report has found.
The latest Anglicare Sydney research, released during this week’s Anti-Poverty Week, claimed welfare dependence was forcing the poor into persistent disadvantage and reliance on charities.
“Short-term emergency relief is only a stop-gap measure and not the solution to a long term, endemic social problem,” said Anglicare director Susan King.
“An over-reliance on it indicates that the social measures in place are failing a proportion of our Australian population.”
Anti-Poverty Week, which runs from October 11 to October 17, aims to highlight and tackle issues of poverty in Australia.
Sponsored by some of Australia’s biggest not-for-profit organisations, including Anglicare, the Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul and the Brotherhood of St Laurence, it aims to educate people on poverty in Australia and worldwide. The week also encourages Australians to organise and participate in activities that aim to highlight and diminish poverty in Australia. One highlight is today’s St Vincent de Paul Rosalie Rendu lecture, featuring 2014 Human Rights medallist Dorothy Hoddinott, who will speak about breaking the poverty cycle.
The Newsroom is covering a number of these activities. Students from The Newsroom will accompany independent charity Clothesline on a run to deliver donated clothing to Sydney’s homeless and will also attend Foodbank’s Big Breakfast at Wynyard Park on Friday to feed the masses as part of World Food Day.
The Newsroom also hit the streets to get the public’s opinion on Anti-Poverty Week.
ACOSS calls for national poverty plan
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and all eight state and territory councils have called on the government to develop a national plan to coincide with Anti-Poverty Week to set practical targets which will reduce the number of Australians living in poverty. Their planned target is to ensure that those with the lowest incomes do not continue to fall further behind the living standards of middle-income households. Specifically, to reduce the number of people, including children, living below the poverty line.
They have called for an increase in job opportunities for long-term unemployed people, an increase in unemployment benefits and a joint government strategy to accelerate supply of affordable housing in local communities.
The recent Anglicare report, called Who is Left Behind? A Profile of Deep and Persistent Disadvantage, found that people living on welfare payments were unable to meet the cost of living. The report found that of those people living on or below the poverty line, 81 per cent were single parents on Newstart, 71 per cent were single parents on the Parenting Payment, and 68 per cent were single person households on other allowances and pensions.
According to the most recent ACOSS Poverty in Australia Report released last year, more than 2.5 million Australians, or 13.9 per cent of the population, are currently living in poverty. This includes more than 600,000 children (17.7 per cent). The gap between Australia’s richest and poorest is also expected to continue to grow over the next 10 years, according to The Living Standards Trends in Australia report conducted by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling. This report found that although the living standards for people across various income levels in Australia had increased since 2004 the rate of growth was not shared equally. It found that the gap between Australia’s richest and poorest households had increased by 13 per cent.
Since 2004 the growth in living standards for those in the top 20 per cent had increased by 28.4 per cent but for those in the bottom 20 per cent they had only experienced a growth of 15.1 per cent, and it is forecast to decline by nearly 5 per cent in the next 10 years. – Daniel Walker
Top picture by Ben Atkinson-James; inset picture by Charmaine Perry.