Australia has not experienced a major economic downturn in recent years, but there are still too many Australians living in poverty. Together we can address the causes of poverty and its symptoms to ensure a better life for everyone living in Australia.
Wage growth for people on low incomes has stagnated. Costs of living are increasing and tax cuts have repeatedly been passed to middle and upper income earners. People on low incomes are being left behind.
Last year alone over 200,000 assists/supports were provded by Uniting to the vulnerable and marginalised in our community. A majority of these are either on the brink of or below the poverty line.
Hobart is the second least affordable city in Australia for renters, after Sydney.
A report from UnitingCare Australia to be released during Anti-Poverty Week 2018 shows that Tasmania has the country’s second highest prevalence of children at the highest level of social exclusion at 34.1%. Victoria has the highest child poverty rate in the country at 18.6 per cent.
In 2018 we have been focusing on four policy issues that all have significant links to poverty.
Evidence shows that children who have enjoyed two years of quality early learning before they go to school will experience much better outcomes over their lives. They get a better start at school, they are more likely to complete high school, and more likely to go on to further education such as university or TAFE. As adults, they are more likely to be in work, they will have higher earning potential and they are less likely to have a criminal record.
Community Mental Health
As funding for community mental health reduces, there is a group of people left struggling to manage their mental health conditions. A lack of support can leave them vulnerable to alcohol and other drugs, homelessness and unemployment.
Housing and homelessness
Victoria and Tasmania are in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. People on low to average incomes are being locked out of both the rental market and home ownership, and increasing numbers are driven into homelessness. The lack of a stable place to live can affect people’s ability to find and keep a job, increasing the likelihood of them falling into poverty.
Young people who are unable to live with their families are much more vulnerable to poverty, with figures showing 35% are homeless in the first year after leaving care and 29% are unemployed.
Action is needed now
Good social policy can help ensure that economic growth is shared fairly. This includes providing affordable education and healthcare, a strong welfare safety net, social housing for those who need it, employment laws that protect workers, and a fair minimum wage and taxation system.
In addition to the four policy areas above, we urge the Federal government to: