NFPs' Call to First Coalition Led Parliament
12 November 2013 at 9:52 am
Leading welfare Not for Profits are calling on the new Australian Parliament to make tackling growing child poverty a national priority and commit to do more to reduce the problem globally.
The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF and The Benevolent Society have joined the Australian Council of Social Services to urge all sides of politics, business and the community to come together to tackle child poverty through a comprehensive national anti-poverty plan, and put the wellbeing of children at the core of the 44th Parliament.
ACOSS said Australia must develop a comprehensive national poverty reduction plan to improve participation and productivity, and secure a sustainable revenue base to meet the future needs of our nation.
“The early signs of our new government seem to be taking us in the wrong direction,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
“Foreign aid, the school kids bonus, the modest supplementary allowance for people unemployed and the low income super contribution rebate are all on the chopping block without clear plans to invest more in our poorest children, families and communities.
“In contrast, many tax breaks for people on higher incomes seem set to be continued.”
Benevolent Society CEO Anne Hollonds said: “As a society we must realise we can’t afford the damaging, long-term consequences of allowing 1 in 6 children to grow up in poverty.
“In a prosperous country like Australia it is shameful that 15 per cent of Australian children live in families where no parent is employed – the fourth highest rate among OECD countries.”
Federal Parliament resumes in Canberra today for the first time since the Coalition took office in September.
The Benevolent Society’s recent report, Acting Early, Changing Lives: How prevention and early action saves money and improves wellbeing found that, “poor children tend to begin school well behind their more affluent peers … go on to complete less schooling, work less and earn less”.
“Our report Acting Early, Changing Lives shows how effective prevention and early action measures for families with young children can improve children’s life chances and the earlier we act, the greater the impact for those kids and families, and the greater the return on our investment,” Hollands said.
“The evidence shows that kids who participated in these programs did better at school, went on to earn more money, had more stable housing, better mental and overall health, and most importantly become better parents themselves.
“The solutions to child poverty lie in helping parents into education and employment, and providing stable housing and income security. To break the cycle of disadvantage we also need investment in preventive services that help parents to be the best mum or dad they can be, support families struggling with issues like poor mental health and ensure all kids grow up in a nurturing environment.
“We know what works. Failing to invest in prevention and early action is like signing a blank cheque now for much higher future costs.”
The welfare agencies are attending the ACOSS forum “Turning the tide on growing child poverty in Australia” in Canberra to work with organisations and child welfare experts to map out the way forward on the issue.