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Issue #1664      November 12, 2014

Poverty on rise: report

A new report by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) has found that poverty is on the rise and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are significantly more likely than other Australians to fall below the poverty line.

ACOSS chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said it was unacceptable that after 20 years of economic growth, “our wealthy nation is going backwards in the numbers of people falling into poverty.”

“As this report shows, most of this poverty is concentrated among the groups of people facing the most disadvantage and major barriers to fully participating in our community,” she said. “These include people who are locked out of the jobs market, single parents, women and children, people with disabilities, the old, the young, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and migrants.”

The report “Poverty in Australia” found that the rate of poverty for Indigenous people was 19.3% compared to 12.4% for the rest of the population. And the results are backed up by “Falling Through the Cracks: poverty and disadvantage in Australia”, released last week by the Curtin Economics Centre.

“Across the array of potential metrics relating to poverty and disadvantage, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples invariably rank among the demographic groups within Australian society experiencing the worst outcomes,” the report found.


“Stark disadvantage exists with respect to physical and mental health, income, education, employment status, incarceration rates and the incidence of other adverse life events.”

The Curtin Economics Centre found that Indigenous people were almost four times more likely to live in overcrowded housing and that median incomes (the statistical middle) are “vastly lower for Indigenous persons.”

“Information makes it clear that income and labour market disadvantage are just some elements of a broader picture of deprivation suffered by Indigenous Australians, and that extends to physical and mental wellbeing, victimisation, incarceration and suicide,” the Curtin report said.

“On the positive side, recent data suggest a marginal narrowing in the gap in life expectancy for Indigenous Australians, to 10.6 years lower life expectancy for Indigenous men and 9.5 fewer years for Indigenous women, when compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts.

“However, such glimpses of any positive change in the relative deprivation experienced by Indigenous Australians are all too rare ... thus the profound disadvantage faced by Indigenous peoples today can be expected to be perpetuated in the form of entrenched poverty and deprivation for generations to come.”

A separate report into homelessness in Brisbane found that nearly a quarter of the surveyed young families (24.3%) who were homeless or “vulnerably housed” identified as Indigenous.

Koori Mail

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