Inequality Growing in Australia: ACOSS
28 March 2011 at 10:35 am
The peak body for the community and social welfare sector, ACOSS, says it will use its 2011 National Conference in Melbourne this week to illustrate the worsening plight of disadvantaged groups and people struggling on low incomes, which it says is leading to growing inequality in Australia.
Dr Cassandra Goldie, the CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service the indications are that more people are hitting hard times and falling into poverty.
Preliminary figures from the ACOSS 2011 Community Sector Survey show the number of people accessing and being turned away from services is increasing, especially in the areas of disability, housing and homelessness, and youth welfare services.
But the largest increase is in area of financial support and/or emergency relief, which has seen a 47% increase in the numbers of people turned away.
Dr Goldie says the data is still being analysed and they expect to release a comprehensive report sometime in April.
But she says the picture is already clear, and they are seeing enormous strain on community welfare groups.
She says more than half the 745 organisations surveyed reported that they are struggling to meet the growing demand (54.8%). And the recent flood disasters are likely to have made this situation more acute, which occurred after survey period (July 2009-June 2010).
Dr Goldie says that across the network, which comprises thousands of community and social services groups around the country, including the big charities, there have been reports of a surge in demand for emergency help during the Christmas holiday period, attributed to the accelerating cost of living pressures.
St Vincent de Paul Society and Anglicare for instance, both reported a jump of about 30 per cent when most charities usually expect an 8-10 per cent increase for help around this peak period.
ACOSS says it will will use this week’s National Conference to highlight these issues and allow community service groups working at the coalface to point the way forward.
Dr Goldie says the Conference provides an opportunity for all of these issues to be put on the table and dissected by community workers, researchers, and government representatives, so they find ways to deal with these growing problems and reverse the current trend of growing inequality which threatens to make us poorer as a nation.
See ACOSS website for Indicators of Inequality Factsheet and full conference program details, including sessions and speakers www.acoss.org.au
Pro Bono Australia News is the ACOSS media partner during the conference. Follow the conversations on Twitter with the hashtag ACOSS2011.