2.5 million living in poverty

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has released a report which shows that almost one in seven Australians live below the poverty line. ACOSS fears that Federal Budget measures might make the situation even worse.

The report found that an estimated 2.5 million people (13.9 per cent of the population), is living below the internationally accepted poverty line. The poverty line for a single adult is $400 per week. The maximum rate of payment for a single person on Newstart is $501 per fortnight.

“This finding brings into focus the sheer inadequacy of these allowance payments, which fall well below the poverty line,” says ACOSS Chief Executive, Dr Cassandra Goldie.

The report also found that those most likely to be living in poverty are the unemployed and households whose main source of income comes from social security payments, such as Newstart. Pensioners will also be further affected, considering the government’s plans to reduce the indexation of pension payments.

“Thirty-six dollars a day is not enough security – there is a real risk of poverty while struggling on the Newstart allowance,” Dr Goldie said. “(This) is likely to result in higher poverty rates over time.”

The report highlights the need for the government to take a long, hard look at the high rate of poverty in Australia – one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

“[The report] provides an opportunity for the government to work with the whole community to reconfigure its first budget and national policy priorities around the urgent need to address poverty in Australia.” said Dr Goldie.

Read more at The Guardian.

Read the ACOSS report.

Opinion: How can this be?

Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, so it is staggering that almost 14 per cent of the population are living below the poverty line. With so many people living in poverty and the Federal Budget threatening to worsen the situation, how is it that Australia’s defence budget is still increasing substantially?

The budget projects further military spending increases for the next decade. So perhaps we should be looking at spending that money on housing and income support for Australians. Surely it would be better spent on solving problems that are closer to home.

Our military contributions in Iraq will cost up to $500 million per year, possibly more. Some of these funds should be diverted to more important items such as housing and family tax benefits.

The government aims to spend more money in order to increase military power, but one in eight Australians can’t even afford to pay their own power bills. With so many Australians living below the poverty line, some may question the money being spent on the military to protect our quality of life, if this quality of life is poor.

What do you think is more important? Should the government be spending money on military action overseas? Or should our taxes be spent on solving problems closer to home?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.