Although Australia is more resource rich than ever, research highlights we still have one of the highest poverty rates within the world, sitting at 13% as of 2018.
A recent study released by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) and University of New South Wales (UNSW) found more than one in eight adults and one in six children live below the poverty line – this accounts for more than three million people nationwide.
CEO of ACOSS Dr Cassandra Goldie said despite decades of uninterrupted economic growth, we are still leaving people behind.
The main causes of poverty are believed to be structural, with cyclical disadvantage passing on from one generation to the next, preventing those belonging in this cluster from effectively moving with economic shifts, such as rising house prices.
As of 2017, average housing costs of working age people with the lowest income rose by 42% but key security support payments such as Newstart and Youth Allowance have not increased in real terms for over 26 years – substantially locking people in this threshold.
"The job market is changing, with jobs less secure, and fewer entry level jobs than there used to be and for a country as wealthy as ours, this isn't right." Dr Goldie said.
Various economists and social data scientists agree structural disadvantage is commonly experienced by young people trying to enter the job market, single parents juggling caring responsibilities and older people facing age discrimination – however this can be effectively reduced with adequate government support and attention.
The report's lead researcher Dr Bruce Bradbury said the poverty rate in Australia is worse than most comparable countries including New Zealand and Germany.
"The Government has a key role to play in this issue by boosting the availability of attainable jobs, increasing rent assistance and investing in social housing to ensure everyone has a sale place to call home."
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