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. Not having enough money to cover the necessities restricts daily life and crushes hope for the future.
We’ve heard shocking stories of mothers pretending they’ve eaten dinner while cooking when in fact, there was not enough food to feed the whole family; of mothers forced to forego important medications and unable to maintain or fix their car. All of which has the compounding effect of restricting their employment options. We’ve also heard of children telling their younger siblings to drink less milk and not even telling their parents about after school activities and excursions because they know the family cannot afford them.
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. According to ANU research commissioned by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Social Ventures Australia, poverty rates for these families reduced from 39% to 17%. 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.” See more quotes from 550 Reasons to Smile here.
Many low-income families with children would also benefit hugely from Federal and State/Territory governments investing in social housing, ensuring they have a safe, affordable home. 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.
Some key resources
Covid, inequality and poverty in 2020 & 2021, ACOSS/UNSW Sydney Poverty and Inequality Partnership, 2/3/22.
- Spotlight on the True Cost of Going to School by SA Children’s Commissioner and SA APW Chair 2021, 18/10/21.
- New research on inequity in children’s access to extracurricular resources released by Prof Gerry Redmond & Dr Alex O’Donnell, Flinders University. See also Media Backgrounder – Extracurricular Activities Disadvantage, 18/10/21.
- The MOR for Children Framework by the Children’s Policy Centre, The Australian National University, 18/10/21.
- No Fighting Chance: impact of the withdawal of COVID-19 income and tenancy benefits report published by UnitingVic.Tas and Swinburne University Centre for Social Impact, 19/10/21.
- Ben Phillips and Vivikth Narayanan, Financial Stress and Social Security Settings in Australia, ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, April 2021. Read a 5 page summary here and watch the 27 April 2021 webinar.
- Power to Persuade, Poverty and its effects on school-aged children: Understanding the consequences of policy choices, Professor Sharon Bessell , 20/4/21
- APW Child and Family Poverty Fast Facts, 2021.
See also APW Resources Poverty in Australia (Child and Family reports)
See also these websites:
- Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY)
- Brotherhood of St Laurence
- Every Child
- National Child Protection Week 2021 (4-10 September 2022)
- National Council of Single Mothers and their Children
- 100 Families WA project including their Speaking from Experience video series
- Save the Children
- SNAICC (the national voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children)
- Valuing Children’s Initiative