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How long has Anti-Poverty Week been operating?

Anti-Poverty Week was established in 2002 by the Social Justice Project at the UNSW. It was inspired by the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17) but expanded to include a full week in Australia to allow more participation. 2022 will be our 20th anniversary. See Our History for more.

When is Anti-Poverty Week this year?

Anti-Poverty Week will be held between 11-17 October in 2020.  Stay tuned for more on our evidence-based solution which will be the focus this year. We undertook a strategic review from November 2018 to March 2019 and consulted with many individuals and organisations who have been involved in Anti-Poverty Week in past. There was strong agreement to increase our impact on action. We then decided to choose an evidence-based solution each year and partner with the leading campaign/organisation in that space to take action to end poverty.  In 2019 we invited the Raise the Rate campaign led by ACOSS as it is the single most effective way to reduce poverty in Australia.  Around 1 million Australians including 160,000 children are living on Newstart at around $40 a day which has not been increased in real terms in 26 years.

Is Anti-Poverty Week affiliated to any political parties?

No, Anti-Poverty Week is independent of all political parties and we encourage Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum to join in. Many politicians have launched reports or attended Anti-Poverty Week activity over the years since we commenced in 2002.

Does Anti-Poverty Week just operate in major cities?

No, we operate across Australia – historically at least one third of our activities take place in regional and rural areas. In 2019 our leadership includes State Co Chairs based in Alice Springs, Launceston and Central Western Queensland. Our facilitating Groups extend even wider across our regions. You can find out more about us here.

Is ending Global Poverty an impossible task?

In 2015, more than 700 million people (or 1 in 10 of the global population) lived in extreme poverty on less than US $1.90 a day and nearly one quarter on less than $3.20 a day.


Globally, children are more likely to be living in poverty – they make up half of all those living in extreme poverty.


We can reduce global poverty. Nearly 1 billion people have escaped poverty, thanks to political leadership, inclusive economic development and international cooperation since 1992.  The UN Sustainable Development Goal #1 is to End Extreme Poverty worldwide by 2030.  The total cost per year would be about $175 billion – this is less than 1% of the combined income of the richest countries in the world.


Australia, along with 192 other Member States, agreed to the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015.  The goals apply equally to Australia and Australians as they do internationally.  The number 1 Goal is ‘No Poverty’.


See our Global Poverty Fast Facts for more information.

Does poverty exist in Australia?

In Australia, according to the ACOSS/UNSW Poverty in Australia 2020 report, there are more than 3.2 million people living below the poverty line including 774,000 children – that’s 1 in 8 adults and more than 1 in 6 children. Many of those affected are living in deep poverty – on average $282 a week below the poverty line.


Research by the Productivity Commission published in 2018 as Rising Inequality? stated that despite 27 years of uninterrupted economic growth, the proportion of Australians living on very low incomes (9-10%) has not changed.  Their report shows that “forms of poverty for children in particular have actually risen over the last twenty years.”


Check out our Poverty in Australia Fast Facts.

Does Australia spend a lot on welfare?

Australia’s Welfare 2019 released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on 11/9/19 said in 2016 we  spent less than the OECD average on welfare – for every $100 of GDP, Australia spent less than $11; lower than the OECD median of just over $13. The AIHW also told us the proportion of working age Australians receiving unemployment or parenting payments has declined from 13% in 2011 to 7% in 2017-18.


In January 2019, then Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher said the proportion of working age Australians receiving income support payments in June 2018 was 14.3%, the lowest level in 30 years.

What about Newstart and Youth Allowance payments for unemployed people and young people?

Australia’s income support system was designed to help people when they are going through tough times. But Newstart is not working – the rate has not been increased in real terms for 25 years while living costs have gone through the roof. The current rate of $40 per day is too low to give people the support they need to get by.


Increasing Newstart and linked payments would help reduce poverty for around one million Australians including about 160,000 children whose parents depend on these payments. Over 180,000 recipients were aged over 55 years.


ANU research published on 14/9/19 tells us that households surviving on Newstart or Youth Allowance are twice as likely to be living in poverty as 25 years ago.  In 2017, 4 in 5  households with Newstart or Youth Allowance as their main income were living in poverty after their housing was paid for, compared with less than 2 in 5 in 1993.


Check out our Poverty & Newstart Fast Facts.

Don't Newstart recipients get more than just the allowance?

Yes, Newstart recipients get the Allowance of $279.50 a week and the Energy Supplement which is $4.40 a week.  So the total is $40.65 a day.  They can also get Rent Assistance but need to be paying at least $153 a week to get the maximum of $69 a week in Rent Assistance. (Note: all figures are for single adult recipients.)


See also our Poverty and Newstart Fast Facts.

Is getting a job the sole solution to poverty?

It can be but the Productivity Commission has stated: While “paid employment can be a route out of a state of disadvantage, it does not guarantee an absence of recurrent disadvantage as some jobs, particularly low-skilled jobs, are low-paid and hours of available work not assured.” (as cited in the Parliamentary Committee Report Living on the Edge, February 2019).


ACOSS/UNSW Poverty in Australia 2018 report found that, in 2015-16, 38% of people living in poverty had wages as their main source of income.  This was an increase from 32% in 2013-14.  The latest ABS Unemployment figures for August 2019 showed nearly 2 million Australians are either unemployed (716,800) or would like more hours of work (~1.15million).


See also our Poverty and Work Fast Facts.

How are our children faring?

More than one in six Australian children live in poverty and too many of their parents are skipping meals to give them enough nourishment. According to the ACOSS/UNSW Poverty in Australia 2018, the percentage of children living in poverty is higher than the percentage of any other age group – including those aged 65 years and over.


Kids growing up in poverty too often go to bed or school hungry; they can feel left out if they can’t afford to join a local sport team or go on school camps; they may be living in an overcrowded home where there’s no quiet place to do homework and they worry about their parents.  Yet these high rates aren’t inevitable – we made great strides in the 1990’s when the former PM Bob Hawke and his government committed to end child poverty.  Poverty wasn’t eliminated but it was reduced by 30 percent.


We can look to these solutions – investing in early years, increasing family payments, single parent payments and Newstart. More affordable housing and ensuring all parents complete Year 12 and have access to effective back to work schemes would also help a lot.


See also our Child Poverty Fast Facts.

What about people with disability?

1 in 6 people with disability were living in poverty, compared with just over 1 in 10 Australians without disability, according to the ACOSS/UNSW Poverty in Australia 2018 report.  They also said this was likely to understate the extent of poverty as it did not take account the additional costs of disability.  A more recent NATSEM report for disability peak AFDO concluded “A significant number of Australians with disability and their families are now living in poverty.”


Two out of every five Indigenous households relying on the disability pension ran out of money for basic living expenses in the last 12 months.  While less than 3% of households without a person with disability said they went without meals due to a shortage of money, the numbers were 14.4% for households with disability receiving Newstart. Social security rights lawyers say that it is now virtually impossible to be granted the disability pension without legal representation.


See our Poverty & Disability Fast Facts for more information.

Why is poverty growing for people with disability?

More people with disability are now receiving Newstart payments (on average at least $20 a day less than the pension). At December 2014, 1 in 5 people receiving Newstart were assessed as having only a partial capacity to work (less than 30 hours per week). By December 2018, more than 1 in 4 or nearly 200,000 Newstart recipients were in this category according to the NATSEM report commissioned by disability peak AFDO.


See our Poverty & Disability Fast Facts for more information.

Why does the existence of poverty hurt us all?

As human beings, our wellbeing is linked to each other. Growing inequality is detrimental to economic growth and undermines social cohesion, increasing political and social tensions and, in some circumstances, driving instability and conflicts (Why it matters, UN Social Development Goal 1: End Poverty)


Inequality threatens long-term social and economic development, harms poverty reduction and destroys people’s sense of fulfillment and self-worth. This may breed crime, disease and environmental degradation (Why it matters, UN Social Development Goal 10: Reduce Inequality)


Deloitte Access Economics Analysis of the impact of raising benefit rates released in September 2018 found a $75 a week increase in Newstart and associated allowances (described by them as a ‘catch up increase’) would have a strong fairness and prosperity dividend.  Adding $10 a day to the existing base rate of unemployment benefits would cost $3.3 billion, but would create a bigger economy and also would help the regional economies most in need of help.


The evidence is clear that by investing in helping kids get off to a good start, the costs to the community in areas such as healthcare, homelessness and unemployment can be massively reduced.”  ARACY Board Chair Elaine Henry OAM.


See also How We Talk About Poverty.