Anti-Poverty Week is a National event, happening from the 11th to the 17th of October 2020.
During the week surrounding the UN’s International Anti-Poverty Day on 17 October, individuals, communities, organisations and governments are encouraged to act to address poverty, through research, discussion and a multitude of other activities.
During these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever to support those in the Australian community who are struggling the most. The health and economic impact of COVID-19 is hitting marginalised people and communities the hardest. We know that for many people being sick can make your poor and being poor often makes you sick.
Unemployment has doubled as a result of the COVID-19 induced shut-down, affecting many people who may never have needed support as well as those who were already out of work or didn’t have enough work before the bushfires and pandemic hit. In August 2020 there were at least 12 people receiving DSS unemployment payments for every job advertised on the internet.
Poverty in Australia
In Australia, the poverty line is generally defined as 50% of median household income.
This was $457 a week for a single adult, $731 for a sole parent with two children or $960 for a couple with two children in 2017-18.
The ACOSS/UNSW Poverty in Australia 2020 report found:
• In Australia, there are more than 3.24 million people or 13.6% of the population living below the poverty line. That includes 774,000 children or more than 1 in 6.
• Many of those affected are living in deep poverty – on average $282 a week below the poverty line.
Growing up in poverty impacts the hopes and dreams of young people.
How many children are living in poverty in Australia?
774,000 children or 1 in 6 Australian children aged 0-14 years lived in poverty in 2017-18 (the latest available data). At 17.7%, the percentage of children living in poverty is higher than the percentage of any other age group – including those aged 65 years and over.3
Poverty & Housing
Poverty puts pressure on people – it’s constant and strong. If the pressure builds up, people can be pushed into homelessness. We can relieve the pressure on people’s lives by creating affordable housing and helping people get decent jobs. We can also help people withstand this pressure by strengthening our social welfare system and ensuring all payments stay above the poverty line. We can end homelessness and increase housing affordability. Investing in social housing is both the right and smart thing to do.
Poverty & Work
While ‘paid employment can be a route out of a state of disadvantage, it does not guarantee an absence of recurrent disadvantage as some jobs, particularly low-skilled jobs, are low-paid and hours of available work not assured.’
968,000 people or 38% of the 2.6 million people living in poverty (excluding self-employed people) came from households where wages were the main source of income.
Poverty in Rural & Regional Australia
More than 4 in 5 people agreed that nobody deserves to live in poverty and that Australia should be a country that looks after those in need. People in rural and regional Australia have even stronger empathy than those in metropolitan locations. Nearly two thirds of people in rural areas said that there are no differences between them and those experiencing poverty, compared with just over a half of people living in metropolitan areas.
Poverty & Disability
Just under 2 of the 5 Australians living in poverty have a disability (739,200 or 38% of the nearly 2 million adults Australians who are living in poverty).
1 in 6 people with disability were living in poverty, compared with just over 1 in 10 Australians without disability.
The World Bank states that ‘Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom.
Lack of income is not the full story – living in poverty can mean limited access to safe water, good schools, health care, stable and clean housing, and electricity. Where 1 in 10 people live in extreme poverty, it is estimated that 1.3 billion people live in multi-dimensional poverty. For example, the number of people living in households without access to electricity is far greater than those living in monetary poverty. Hence, poverty is not solely linked to finances - it also can include sanitation, housing, and proper education.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
An emu up a gum tree?!
It feels like the Christmas season starts earlier every year, with shops, online stores and businesses putting up decorations and holding promotions in the months leading up to Christmas day. But, did you know that the Christmas season and the 12 days of Christmas actually begin on Christmas Day itself?
The 12 days of Christmas is the period in Christian theology that marks the span between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Magi, the three wise men. It begins on December 25 (Christmas) and runs through January 6 (the Epiphany, sometimes also called Three Kings’ Day).
The 12 Days of Christmas song that most of us are familiar with comes from an English composer named Frederic Austin. In 1909, he set the melody and lyrics (including changing 'colly' to 'calling') and added as his own flourish, the drawn-out cadence of 'five go-old rings'. The earliest known version first appeared in a 1780 children's book called 'Mirth With-out Mischief'.
Learn more about the history of the '12 days of Christmas' in this interesting article: https://www.vox.com/21796404/12-days-of-christmas-explained
Australian lyrics of the 12 Days of Christmas: https://www.thechristmastreefarm.com.au/australian-12-days-of-christmas-lyrics/
It’s Christmas Day – time to spend time with family and friends. To be honest, I’m not even sure why you are reading this? Go, get off your phone or computer and enjoy Christmas.
If you're alone this Christmas for any reason, take a moment to pick up a phone and connect with a friend or family member.
If you don't have access to a phone or wi-fi, all Telstra pay phones are free to use over Christmas till New Years Day: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-23/telstra-payphones-made-free-for-christmas/13009548 - This includes Telstra Air wi-fi access points.
Here's some tips from the ABC if you're in isolation or alone on Christmas Day: https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/tips-for-spending-christmas-alone/100004504
Lifeline provides a 24/7 helpline for crisis support and suicide prevention on 13 11 14.
From all of us at Affordable SA, we wish you a safe and very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year for 2021
Where does the time go? Only 7 Days until Christmas!
Time to pick-up last-minute gifts and prepare for celebrations with family and friends. There’s presents to wrap, food to make and lots and lots of little jobs that can make it a very busy time.
The tricky thing about the festive season is that life doesn’t stop. Your real estate agent will still direct debit your rental payment, your electricity company will still want your quarterly bill paid and your telco company will still demand your BPay payment on a set day of the month.
With the added expense of Christmas, the end of the year can put a lot of pressure on people’s financial situation and unfortunately here on the Affordable SA helpline we tend to see the aftermath at the start of the new year.
Being part of the billion-dollar Christmas debt hangover is no way to start the New Year. If you are struggling with your expenses call the Affordable SA Helpline on 1800 025 539 to speak to a Financial Counsellor.
You can also find a range of programs that can help here:
Food for Christmas
Have you got enough food for you and your family this Christmas?
There's still time to access food pantries and emergency relief, but be quick as services may be closed, providing limited service or have different hours during the Christmas and New Year period.
A food pantry offers free or low cost food and groceries to the community. Find a local Food Pantry here:
You can find local, emergency relief here:
You can also call the Affordable SA helpline to be connected to services near you that can help. Call the helpline on 1800 025 539
A Christmas Together
It's also an important time to check in on people you know who may be experiencing loneliness or hardship.
Spare a thought for your elderly neighbour who lives alone, your friend who is experiencing financial hardship, your relative who is going through a separation or your co-worker who is struggling with depression.
If you know someone who finds this time of year especially difficult, consider reaching out to them to show that you are thinking of them.
If you or someone you know finds this time of year especially difficult, services such as Lifeline are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to take your call on 13 11 14
Have a Merry Christmas South Australia
From everyone at Affordable SA, we wish you a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2021!
Christmas is meant to be a time of celebration and joy, but if times are tough it can be challenging and isolating.
If you are unsure if you have enough food for Christmas, or you don’t know how you will afford presents for your kids, please contact your local Salvation Army. COVID-19 and other challenging circumstances may have you facing unexpected financial difficulties. The Salvos are committed to giving you non-judgemental and confidential support to help you through this season.
Every year, local Salvation Army centers and churches give hope to individuals and families in need by providing food hampers and gift assistance. Christmas hampers are prepared with care using donated goods and shared with those in the community who have fallen on tough times and during the Christmas season.
Registrations for Christmas Cheer close soon!
Each Salvos Centre and Corp organises 'Christmas Cheer' slightly differently, but the overall practice is much the same. You contact your local Salvos to register for Christmas Cheer. You would normally then go to the Centre for a brief interview and fill out some forms. You will be given a timeslot to attend to collect the hamper/vouchers and toys.
This year things are being done differently due to COVID-19. Contact your local Salvos or the Salvos Assistance Line on 1300 371 288
More information is available on the Salvation Army website: https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/christmas/need-help-this-christmas/food-hamper-and-gift-assistance/