October 16, 2017

Anti-Poverty Week reminds all Australians that reducing poverty is as much of a challenge today as it was in the past. 

A modern and successful nation like Australia cannot be satisfied with so many of our citizens living in poverty.

According to the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) around 3 million Australians are living in poverty, including around 730,000 children.  

Unemployment and underemployment remain persistently high, with only one job available for every 10 people who are out of paid work or want to work more hours. 

Unfortunately the Turnbull Government is in denial of worsening poverty and inequality in Australia.

Just last week the IMF made clear that Australia has one of the fastest rising income inequality rates.

There is a growing international consensus that inequality is not only morally wrong but also a drag on economic growth. 

Despite all the evidence Mr Turnbull continues to support cuts to penalty rates.

He refuses to acknowledge the problem of underemployment or stagnant wages growth. 

He still wants to cut family payments to 100,000 Australian families. 

He still wants to increase the pension age to 70.

He still wants to axe the Energy Supplement to 1.7 million low income Australians, including people on Newstart. 

He refuses to do anything to address housing affordability.

Homelessness and housing stress are both a symptom and a cause of entrenched poverty and disadvantage.

Specialist homelessness services provided assistance to an estimated 279,196 clients in 2015–16. New ABS figures show that 51 percent of lower income renter households are in rental stress.

Labor is committed to action to address poverty and inequality, including addressing housing affordability and homelessness.

At the same time Mr Turnbull and the Conservatives want to give a $65 billion handout to multinationals and the big banks.

Bill Shorten and Labor have said that Newstart is too low. At the last election we committed to a comprehensive review of the adequacy of Newstart.

It’s vital that we focus on the way that poverty interacts with other forms of disadvantage to produce intergenerational poverty and social exclusion.

We know that poverty is often concentrated in specific geographical areas.

Living in, or being born into, an area of disadvantage has a significant impact on someone’s opportunity to fully reach their potential later in life.

We have to look at new ways to tackle poverty, disadvantage and unemployment by focussing on the complexities of entrenched disadvantage and supporting people to overcome challenges in their lives.

Reducing poverty is a major challenge and requires all governments, community organisations, business and communities to work together to make a difference. 


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