This Anti-Poverty Week (17-23 October) we are calling on our governments to unlock poverty for millions of Australians by raising income support above the poverty line and investing in social housing.
Living in poverty is too much like living in permanent lockdown. The ability to do important things is taken away from you. Decisions that affect your life are made without your input. You are reliant on the kindness of others. It’s difficult to see what you can do to change the situation. Not having enough money to cover the necessities including housing restricts daily life and crushes hope for the future.
During the 2020 lockdowns, around 3 million Australians, 1 million of them children, were protected from poverty when the Federal Government did the right thing and doubled working age payments. Payments are now as low as $44 (JobSeeker) and $36 (Youth Allowance) per day – well below the poverty line. The poorest adults and children living under pandemic lockdowns in 2021 are being excluded from the COVID Disaster Payment.
The housing affordability crisis is worsening especially in regional Australia – rents have increased 11.3% in past year in regions on average (and more than 20% in some regions of Queensland, WA and NSW) and 5% on average in capital cities. Commonwealth Rent Assistance hasn’t had a real increase in 21 years and only covers a third or a quarter of actual rent paid. Women and children escaping violence face homelessness and poverty due to lack of affordable housing and low social security payments. There is a national shortage of 433,000 homes for people in the lowest 20% of household incomes who are either homeless or in rental stress and at high risk of becoming homeless.
Raise the Rate for Good and Everybody’s Home campaigns for actions you can take including signing the Petition which calls on the PM to support more social housing for women and children fleeing violence.
Specific focus on families and children:
Poverty affects far too many Australian children and families, diminishing their lives now and in the future. As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it’s just not right that 1 in 6 of our children grow up in poverty. To treat all of Australia’s children fairly, we need to ensure every family has enough money to cover the basics and a secure roof over their heads. Children can thrive and be healthy when they have what they need to develop well.
We know what works. The extra income provided to low-income families doing it tough during 2020 really made a difference. It meant they had enough to cover the basics like healthy food, warm clothes in winter and after school activities like sport and music. Importantly it relieved stress on parents and children which compounds hardship. For some it was the means to escape violence. The full Coronavirus Supplement saw poverty drop by more than half for the poorest families – those headed by single parents. The 550 Reasons to Smile campaign captured the impact from families: “This has helped pay the rent and feed my family. I’m a sole parent with no child support and multiple chronic illnesses. This money has given me breathing room.”