Anti-Poverty Week 2016

"The opposite of poverty is not wealth, it is justice."

Anti-Poverty Week is a week where all Australians are encouraged to organise or take part in an activity aiming to highlight or overcome issues of poverty and hardship here in Australia or overseas.

The main aims of anti-poverty week are to:

  • Strengthen public understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and hardship around the world and in Australia; and
  • Encourage research, discussion and action to address these problems, including action by individuals, communities, organisations and governments.

What Vinnies does

We believe that poverty will only be reduced when the structural causes are addressed and that blaming people for their own exclusion is deeply unjust.

On a practical level, Vinnies helps out by conducting home visits and providing assistance with food and utility bills. At the same time, the Society’s National Council continues to advocate for government and broader community action to address the structural causes of poverty and inequality. The Society believes, for example, that if the rate of child poverty is to be reduced, then cuts to family payments and, in particular, single parenting payments must be reversed. The Jobs for Families Legislation, and other Bills that cut payments to families, are currently before Parliament and must be rejected. If these Bills are passed, we will see more families being pushed deeper into poverty, with a single parent household with two teenage children set to lose $60 a week.

ANTI-POVERTY WEEK ACTIVITIES AND REPORTS

The Relative Price Index - the CPI and the implications of changing cost pressures on various household groups 2016

The Society's latest Relative Price Index report shows households are falling behind, with the cost of education, hospital and medical services rising well above the CPI over a 26-year period.  Dr John Falzon, the CEO of the Society's National Council, said charity was becoming a default safety net for people struggling on inadequate income support payments.

"For the people we assist, the cost of essential items such as food, gas, electricity and water charges, rents, health and education have risen significantly," he said.

"This is particularly hard on those whose primary income source is government pensions and allowances."  

Community forum, Katoomba, NSW Blue Mountains

St Vincent de Paul Society National Council CEO, Dr John Falzon, spoke at a forum on the impact of poverty, at the Katoomba-Leura Community Centre, Katoomba Street, Katoomba NSW on Saturday 22 October.  He was joined by other speakers from local community organisations.

NFPs consider 'hidden crisis' of homelessness and older women

The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW brought various not-for-profit organisations together in Sydney on Thursday 20 October, for its annual Rosalie Rendu lecture. Susan Ryan  AO, delivered the keynote speech, which was based on her experience of addressing disadvantage among older women.

The meaning of Poverty

A panel discussion on the reasons behind poverty, the impacts of poverty on people and our communities, and what we can do to address poverty, was held on Wednesday 19 October at Box Hill, Melbourne.

It included:

Denis Fiztgerald, Executive Director, Catholic Social Services
Dr John Falzon, National CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society
Lucy Adams, Manager, Homeless Law at Justice Connect
Sue Cattermole, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society, Victoria

Poverty in Australia Report 2016

A new report by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), which has been co-sponsored by Vinnies, shows that 17.4 per cent of all children in Australia are living in poverty - an increase of 2 per cent over the past 10 years (from 2004-2014).

Published every two years, the report found that overall, nearly three million people were living in poverty in Australia in 2014, or 13.3 per cent of the general population.

Children in lone parent families were more than three times as likely to be living in poverty as those from couple families.  

The unemployed are at greatest risk of poverty. Unsurprisingly, the majority of people below the poverty line rely on social security as their main source of income. But a significant proportion receive wages as their main income, indicating a job is no guarantee of keeping people above the breadline, especially if the job is low paying, insecure or part-time.  

Those doing it the toughest are overwhelmingly people living on the $38 a day Newstart payment. The St Vincent de Paul Society has long advocated for the Newstart Allowance, which has not been increased in real terms since 1994, to be increased by at least $50 a week.

“The high rate of poverty for Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients demonstrates the need to raise unemployment benefits,” the Society’s National Council CEO Dr John Falzon said.

Open letter to the PM calling for meaningful action against poverty

In an open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during Anti-Poverty Week, the St Vincent de Paul Society has joined 36 signatories calling for meaningful action to fight domestic and global poverty.

“No Poverty” is the number one UN Sustainable Development Goal that the Government signed in 2015. To support this goal, the Australian Government has committed to at least halving poverty by 2030.

Despite 20 years of sustained economic growth, Australia has not made real progress in reducing poverty. Of particular concern, child poverty has increased, with nearly one in five children in Australia living in poverty.

The letter stresses the need for a national plan to tackle the scourge of poverty. Australia also has an obligation to support efforts to halve poverty across the world, yet the Government has cut aid to the lowest it has ever been.

In this Anti-Poverty Week, the open letter calls upon the PM to “convert our international commitment to reduce poverty in Australia and overseas into meaningful action.”

What you can do

  • If you are involved in a community group or sporting association, ask them to think about doing something to help raise awareness.
  • Make a difference in someone’s life by becoming a volunteer
  • Join in an Anti-Poverty Week activity or event being held in your local area – visit www.antipovertyweek.org.au to find out more
  • Give today and help the one in eight Australians living in poverty – visit www.vinnies.org.au/donate
  • Read a report in the Huffington Post by Vinnies NSW CEO Jack de Groot, on the relationship between poverty and mental illness