Report reveals many Aussies poverty-stricken

AUSTRALIA may be a desirable first world destination to live for some but for the more than 2 million residents living below the poverty line, it's a constant struggle.

Despite the developments in the social, political and economic fabrics of Australian society, the poverty-stricken population in Australia remains, a new comprehensive report shows.

According to the Australian Council of Social Service, 12.8% Australians were living below the poverty line in 2010.

The Poverty and Inequality in Australia report, the first in a series, used an international standard to determine the poverty line (50% of median income) for a single adult was $358 per week and for a couple with two children it was $752.

>>See the report

More than 50% of Newstart Allowance recipients were living below the line and two-thirds had been unemployed for more than a year.

The report also showed that there are almost 600,000 children living in families below the poverty line.

The risk of poverty to the younger generation reflects the higher costs facing families with children, which parents who are not in paid work or on a low wage struggle to meet, the report outlined.

ACOSS chief executive officer Dr Cassandra Goldie said it was simply unacceptable one in eight people were suffering from poverty despite years of unprecedented growth and wealth creation.

"It is simply unacceptable that so many people are still going without the basics and the sorts of opportunities the rest of us take for granted," she said.

"A wealthy country such as ours can and should do better to ensure that everyone is afforded an adequate standard of living.

"In a wealthy country like Australia, this is simply inexcusable."

Dr Goldie said increased support for those deepest impacted by poverty, greater employment services and a way to ease housing pressures were all needed to combat the problem.

In his foreword in the report, St Vincent de Paul Society National Council chief executive Dr John Falzon highlighted the impact society's attitude had on domestic poverty.

"We do irreparable harm when we turn it into a question of individual behaviour, blaming people for their own poverty," he said.

"It is a matter of deep shame for a wealthy nation like ours that our unemployment benefits, for example, have been kept deliberately low as a means of humiliating the very people they were originally designed to assist."

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