The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council has marked Anti-Poverty Week by launching Two Australias: a report on poverty in the land of plenty, which urges the government to rethink its approach to poverty.
The report outlines practical recommendations for the new government in the light of the facts on poverty in prosperous Australia. It explains that for those who have been left out, choices are few and deprivations are many and that, in the provision of the fundamentals such as housing, health, education, and access to meaningful employment, governments must do what markets cannot.
Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said: “Our members across the nation are continuing to see the emergence of two Australias: one characterised by prosperity and high-end consumption, the other by a daily struggle to be able to afford the necessities of life. We are launching this report as a tribute to the courage of the people who have borne the brunt of inequality in Australia.
“It is popular in the current political environment to blame people for their poverty, but the truth told by the people on the margins speaks louder than the lies told about them.
“An adequate income is crucial, which is why, despite the constant ideological resistance, we continue to advocate for a much-needed $50 a week increase to the Newstart payment (which currently sits at 40% of the after-tax minimum wage) and a change in the way it is indexed. But income support is not enough. We need to look at what locks people out of the labour market.
“Tackling inequality means investing in high quality social and economic infrastructure for the benefit of all. It means high quality education and health being completely accessible to everyone regardless of their income or their postcode, their gender, the colour of their skin, or their disability.
“It means guaranteeing appropriate housing rather than abandoning people to a private rental market that is notoriously bad at meeting the needs of low-income households.”
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