Child poverty report sounds alarm bells for Australia’s future

Child poverty report sounds alarm bells for Australia’s future

Media Release
Poverty Alleviation

Australia faces a mountain of future challenges, judging by a new report from The Australia Institute which finds one-in-six children already living in poverty but no official acceptance of a poverty line or any monitoring of poverty being conducted by government. 

‘As this report notes, poverty has long-lasting and insidious impacts on a child’s health and well-being and can affect their schooling and employment opportunities throughout their entire lifetime,’ said St Vincent de Paul Society’s National President, Mark Gaetani. 

‘But it goes broader than that because child poverty is a social minefield that affects families, the many support services provided by governments and not-for-profits, and the nation’s budgetary bottom line because the knock-on costs are stupendous.’ 

The Australia Institute’s report, Ending Child Poverty in Australia, focused on gauging community attitudes towards child poverty. It found people were overwhelmingly supportive of government measures to reduce child poverty, with four-in-five (81 per cent) agreeing that household income support payments should be set at a rate that did not cause any child in Australia to live in poverty. 

‘This commonly held view aligns with the position of St Vincent de Paul Society,’ Mr Gaetani said, ‘which is that the JobSeeker rate should be raised to match that of pension payments, and this could be afforded by various fiscal reforms, including a reduction of the 50 per cent capital gains tax concession on the sale of investment property.  

‘This is clearly spelt out in the research on tax and welfare done for the Society by the Australian National University. The recommendations discuss how best to help people most likely to be in poverty – those receiving JobSeeker, working age pension recipients (including DSP and carers), sole-person households, single parents and renters. 

‘Poverty, and in particular, child poverty must be a priority for this Government. For years now, we have called for a benchmark to measure and reduce child poverty. For a country as wealthy as Australia, we should be aiming to halve child poverty by 2030. 

‘Let’s remember that every child living in poverty equates to a household, often a single-parent family, that is struggling to get by amidst the cost-of-living crisis. 

‘The alarming statistic of one-in-six children living in poverty gives an indication of the huge number of households doing it tough. Our Members see at first-hand how difficult things have become, with demands for assistance continuing to rise, including a spike in calls for emergency relief. 

‘As one of this report’s authors has rightly said, poverty is a policy choice, which means the onus for taking remedial action lies with the government. The Society calls on the Albanese Government to take immediate steps to resolve child poverty in a country that can well afford to prevent anyone falling through the safety net. 

End Child Poverty says that every day in Australia more than 761,000 children live below the poverty line. We fully support their campaign to legislate for change. 

The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia consists of 45,000 members and volunteers who operate on the ground through over 1,000 groups located in local communities across the country.

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