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.