Thursday, August 30, 2007

Australian poverty a 'national scandal'

"Australia's economic prosperity and record low unemployment have heralded good times for many, but a new study shows that the number of Australians living below the poverty line has grown substantially in the past decade.

"The study, by the Australia Fair coalition of welfare groups, has looked at how Australia compares with the 30 industrialised countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

"Dr John Falzon from the St Vincent de Paul Society says the report has found poverty is on the rise.

"'Considering we've had up to 15 years of sustained economic growth, it's a national scandal to think we had it within our means to structurally address the causes of poverty and inequality in Australia,' he said.

"Dr Falzon says the low paid do not have much job security, people on welfare are being breached too easily, and rising rent, health and transport prices have hit them hard.

"'They're suffering enormously in what for many is a time of great prosperity,' he said.

"Using the international poverty measure of those earning less than half the country's median disposable income, the report found that back in 1994, 7.6 per cent of Australians were living in poverty.

"Dr Falzon says by 2004, this figure had risen to 9.9 per cent.

"'It's a great disappointment to all of us,' he said.

"The welfare report says in areas such as poverty and housing affordability Australia ranks well down the OECD list.

"Clare Nyblom, who works with young homeless people at the Melbourne City Mission, says anecdotal evidence backs the study.

"'We did a survey a couple of weeks ago of one of our service delivery sites where basically we had I think 360 young people seeking crisis accommodation and there was 30 beds available across the state,' she said.

"She says the Commonwealth must do more.

"'While there are some specialised programs they are so underfunded and resource poor they're not going to be able to meet the needs of the people we're working with,' she said ..."
ABC News


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