Visiting Author to Warn Australia Against Following US on Growing Inequality
9 June 2015 at 11:04 am
Visiting US author Linda Tirado will warn Australian audiences against going down the US route of divisive and socially damaging, growing inequality when she addresses the Australian Council of Social Service national conference on 25th and 26th of June.
Linda Tirado was attending college and working two jobs when her accidental essay Why I Make Terrible Decisions, Or, Poverty Thoughts went viral – and was read more than eight million times by people all around the world.
The essay turned into a critically acclaimed book called Hand to mouth: The truth about being poor in a wealthy world, which propelled her from a struggling night shift diner cook to successful author and international guest speaker at places like the London School of Economics.
Until then Linda had spent her entire adult life navigating the mundane sort of dilemmas that millions of Americans face every day – like how to keep the electricity on when the rent’s due, or how to keep a job when you keep having to call in sick to cover extra shifts at your second job.
DescribEd as having ‘a way with words that’s somehow both breezy and blunt,’ Linda Tirado is an unlikely author, who now travels the world speaking on power and money and dignity, and what it means to live with very little of any of them in the wealthiest country on Earth.
Her address at the ACOSS conference will come at the same time the peak community sector body releases a major national report revealing the extent of income and wealth inequality in Australia.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie says, “we’re delighted to have Linda deliver the keynote speech at our conference. She is a powerful speaker with an incredible story to tell.”
“Her trip down under comes as the OECD warns that the gap between those with the most wealth and people with the least in most of the world’s advanced economies is at record levels.
“The latest global report shows the world's richest 10 per cent earns nearly 10 times more than the poorest 10 per cent. This is deeply disturbing, especially when we know that growing inequality is so divisive. It polarises and splinters the social fabric of our communities – which is social harmony. It stifles upward mobility between generations, increases social tensions, and harms our economy.
“In the US for instance, the top 1 per cent of households takes in more than twice as big a share of income as it did in 1979, while middle-class incomes have stagnated since the mid-1990s.
“This is the sort of struggle and tensions that Linda Tirado has documented so vividly in her writings, and her warning to Australians will be a timely one with the release of our new report,” Dr Goldie said.
“Clearly we don’t want Australia to go down the US route in this way. In a country as wealthy as ours, we must ensure that all citizens are able to realise their potential and to share the benefits of growth and increased prosperity.”
Linda Tirado will deliver this message when she appears on the ABC’s Q & A program on Monday 22nd June and other media appearances during her tour.
The ACOSS national conference titled, Advancing the Common Good includes a series of high powered panel discussions on topics such as the future of welfare reform, facilitated by Journalist Patricia Karvelas; families policy, chaired by well-known writer and social commentator Jane Caro; and the future of work hosted by ABC Radio Nationals Paul Barclay for Big Ideas.
It also includes ‘The Great (Taxation) Debate’. Panellists and audience members will debate the statement “that in order to meet the future needs for social security and services, we should raise income taxes rather than consumption taxes,” facilitated by Fairfax Journalist Michael West.
Another panel will explore ways to strengthen and maintain independent civil society to achieve its shared aims as a community. This discussion is timely with the recent Federal Government cuts to the funding of peak community advocacy organisations and the current threats to the tax deductibility status of environmental groups.
“ACOSS supports having strong community voices, including on issues of environmental health. Civil society has a responsibility to speak up as part of a healthy democracy. This responsibility is even greater when issues affect people less powerful in society. Of course the environment cannot speak for itself,” Dr Goldie said.
The ACOSS National Conference is also the place where the vital contribution of Australia’s community sector is rewarded, through the presentation of the HESTA Community Sector Awards at the ACOSS Conference Dinner. Hosted by Jane Caro, the awards are a celebration of the outstanding achievements of individuals and organisations in the sector.
The annual event is the premier meeting place for Australia’s community sector to discuss what makes good public policy. It includes policy experts, politicians, academics, activists and community sector leaders from Australia and abroad to share their experiences, expertise and vision for a fair, inclusive and sustainable Australia.
Find out more and book your place here: http://conference.acoss.org.au/