Salvos Report: Perceptions of Poverty
18 October 2010 at 9:38 am
New Roy Morgan Research being released by The Salvation Army shows 9.5 million Australians feel that taking action to reduce poverty should be a “very high priority” as part of a new report on poverty and the Salvos are calling on the Australian Government to develop a national child poverty strategy to help all children.
The report – “Perceptions of Poverty" – shows 2 million Australians now live in poverty – 1 in 10 of us. The Salvos say they commissioned the report to have a closer look at the true impact poverty is having on people and their families. They highlight poverty is a complex phenomenon.
It highlights 70% of poor children in Australia live in jobless families and Australia now has one of the highest levels of joblessness among families with children in an OECD country.
12% of all children aged 0 to 17 live in ‘relative poverty’.
The Salvation Army says traditional stereotypes of people in poverty are simply inaccurate citing drastic increases in one particular group – “the working poor”.
The Salvos say at least 80,000 Australians needed their help for the first time last year.
The report also reveals many single parent families are experiencing poverty with 57% saying they could not pay utility bills in the past 12 months and 12% went without meals.
The research also indicates that 11.6 million Australians agree (or strongly agree) that just about anyone can find themselves living in poverty.
The research shows that 8.9 million Australians agree or strongly agree not nearly enough has been done to reduce poverty in Aboriginal/Indigenous communities.
The Salvos want the Federal Government to instigate a national child poverty strategy to ensure all children thrive academically and emotionally and a significant expansion for mental health services across Australia as well as a root and branch reform of the social security payment system.
The welfare organisation says there is a new emerging group of people getting bigger – the working poor. They say around half of the country’s low income households report experiencing cash flow problems, with more than a quarter of them needing to increase credit card debt and exhaust savings and borrow money from friends and family.
The new report follows a University of Sydney report which shows full-time jobs are dramatically dropping – full-time jobs with paid leave now make up slightly more than 55% of jobs – down from nearly 75% in the early 1990s.
Salvos spokesman, Major Brad Halse says the “Perceptions of Poverty” report is alarming. He says the report highlights there needs to be more understanding about poverty rather than judging – often on misinformed stereotypes.
Report author Wilma Gallet says people living in poverty struggle every day to make ends meet and it’s obvious that the absence of positive relationships and social connectedness can increase the stigma and sense of exclusion people feel when they are facing poverty.
The Salvation Army highlights a range of key issues need to be considered including:
- The Australian Government should develop a national child poverty strategy to ensure children thrive emotionally, physically, academically and socially.
- An examination of the full extent of under-employed workers in Australia should be commissioned with strategies following to reduce under-employment and to address dis-incentives for people taking up full time work.
- They say there should be a root and branch reform of Australia’s social security payment system.
- They are calling for a national disability insurance scheme to be put in place to give life-time care and support for people with disabilities.
- A 10 year action plan to expand mental health services across Australia should be instigated. Numerous disadvantaged people experience poor mental health.
- Governments should work more flexibly and supportively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agencies across all areas of the community sector, with an expansion of programs to encourage community involvement/development in addressing Indigenous poverty.
- The Salvation Army wants to see more education models that engage disconnected young people and create learning environments to assist them. It says governments should ensure these models are adequately funded to keep young people who are struggling in education.
- The Salvation Army recommends the Australian Government adopts a program that focuses on enhancing the skills and careers of single parents, pointing out there is a growing number of single parent women in low paid, part-time jobs.
- The Salvos want to see an expansion of financial counselling and support programs.The Salvos say there is a need to increase funding to the emergency sector so more integrated/intensive support programs can be offered to clients to reduce the chances of inter-generational poverty.
The Salvation Army’s new Roy Morgan Research was a CATIBus telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 669 Australians aged 14 and over carried out in May 2010.