Sick with worry 2015 national report - Stories from the front-line of inequality

The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia has released the national report, 'Sick with worry' - Stories from the front-line of inequality, to coincide with Anti-Poverty Week 2015.

The report was officially launched at the Social Determinants of Health Alliance (SDOHA) Anti-Poverty Week Oration on October 14. Society CEO, Dr John Falzon delivered the SDOHA Anti-Poverty Week Oration and launched the report.

The “Sick with worry” report is the result of over 70 interviews our members conducted with the people the St Vincent de Paul Society assists across Australia to find out their most pressing concerns. Names have been changed to protect people’s privacy. The report includes 14 recommendations to government on issues of housing, health and job creation.

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • We call on the Federal Government to commit to a National Jobs Plan alongside comprehensive plans for housing and health. The Federal Government must take the lead on tackling homelessness, including increased investment and minimum four-year funding commitments to the National Partnership on Homelessness. Housing taxation must be reformed and minimum wage and penalty rates be maintained and strengthened.
  • For all government services to be properly funded, including those for survivors of domestic violence so they can stay in their homes, free community GPs, Indigenous and rural health, primary and secondary education and all other social services.
  • To make income support adequate, and non-stigmatising, by increasing Newstart by at least $50 per week immediately and indexing all payments to wages instead of CPI, scrapping Compulsory Income Management, increasing rent assistance and putting parents on Parenting Payment.

The report contains some sobering stories of poverty and inequality in prosperous Australia, finding overwhelmingly that people do not experience poverty because they choose to but as a result of a range of structural causes which push them to the margins. Even while experiencing this exclusion, however, what people want most is to participate in and contribute to society.

Download a copy of the Sick with worry report.

Anti-Povery Week in the Northern Territory

Anti-Poverty Week was held this year between 11 and 17 October 2015. Over 400 people attended the Anti-Poverty week event ‘Territory Walks Against Hunger’. In 2015 this event raised over $12000 for Foodbank. This event is a combined effort between Foodbank and partners St Vincent de Paul with the aid of major sponsors such as Power and Water, Woolworths, Southern Cross TV and Darwin Trailer Boat Club.

Australia ranks 26th in the OECD with a higher than average number of people living in poverty – we have less people than the US but many more than the UK.*12 per cent of Australians live under the poverty line and one quarter are dependent children. This number has been increasing over time despite real increases in the income that low-income households receive. The Northern Territory sees the second highest rates of poverty after Tasmania with 11 per cent of people in poverty.

St Vincent de Paul has assisted Foodbank in this event as we are the largest NT charity using Foodbank’s services and it makes a substantial difference to the costs of supplying food to those in need. Foodbank collects donated food such as that from Woolworths and warehouses it until it is required by charities to provide to people in need. Charities pay a handling fee for the food required and the fee contributes to the cost of warehousing, operations and staff.

Next year, support poverty week activities in your local community by participating in events, encouraging employers and colleagues to contribute to local Foodbanks and talk to people about the difference organisations like Foodbank make to vulnerable people. Together we can eradicate poverty.

*Unitingcare Poverty Social Exclusion and Disadvantage Report (2013) National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, University of Canberra.