Showing posts with label poverty and disadvantage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poverty and disadvantage. Show all posts

Friday, 15 December 2017

"Inequality is neither a personal choice nor a national tragedy. It is a choice governments make"

Chief executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society national council Dr John Falzon, writing in The Guardian on 13 December 2017:

In 1952 a Catholic newspaper in Ireland proclaimed: “The welfare state is diluted socialism and socialism is disguised communism.”

Extreme? Yes. Dated? No. When you listen to the dying declarations of the spear-carriers for neoliberalism, it’s hard not to hear the same alarmist codswallop.

The logic goes like this: being unemployed and poor is bad because people choose to be unemployed or poor. If you receive income support, it is because you are unemployed and poor. Therefore, receiving income support is bad. Therefore, removing income support is good. Coincidentally, this means more money for the rich and less for the poor.

Social services minister Christian Porter’s recent National Press Club address was replete with denunciations of the “politics of envy” associated with redistributionist policies, as well as the “morally unacceptable” nature of social expenditure because it means placing a debt burden on the children of today to pay off as the adults of tomorrow.

These are old tropes. Joe Hockey used them regularly when he was treasurer. The intergenerational framework is always going to be a useful means of distracting from the uncomfortable reality of class inequality in the current generation.

A false divide is constructed between those who have a job (and pay taxes) and those who don’t.

It is time that we did away with this fictitious divide. It was always false. It implied that the low-paid cleaner had more in common with the mining magnate than with the person who is locked out of the labour market.

But now, especially as we try to understand the future of work and the massive changes to the structure of the labour market, it is time we consigned this nonsense to the rubbish bin of ideological history.

People who are low paid, casually employed, underemployed, unemployed, informally employed, on dodgy contracts, women who work as unpaid or low-paid carers, students who take whatever work they can get and remain silent about the indefinite training wages, sole parents, people with a disability, aged pensioners, veterans; all have more in common with each other and with other members of the working class than we dare admit.

By recognising this commonality, we can begin to reframe the way in which so-called welfare dependency and the “injustice” and “immorality” of social expenditure is presented. This is crucial at a time when the government has ruled out increasing the woefully inadequate Newstart payment, which has not seen an increase in real terms since 1994 .

The discussion needs some perspective. We have a minimum wage that sits at around 40% of the average weekly earnings and a Newstart payment that sits at around 40% of the minimum wage. The minimum wage is not a living wage and the unemployment benefit is not even a pale shadow of a living wage. And we see the consequences at the St Vincent de Paul Society every day, where topping up from charitable assistance has become the norm for many people simply to survive.

We need a solid jobs plan, and full employment should be a policy priority. Instead we keep getting served up a putting-the-boot-into-the-unemployed-plan and a slashing-social-expenditure-plan. Behavioural approaches won’t fix structural problems. The government can blame people all they like but this won’t address the inequality many are burdened with, as wages are suppressed and profits soar, buttressed by tax cuts, wage cuts and social expenditure cuts….

Our social security system was built in very different structural circumstances. The labour market is different. Work is different. We should be embarking on a serious reframing of how we can, collectively and with common resources, achieve social and economic security for everyone. We need, for example, to explore how government might play a leading role in achieving full employment instead of harassing the people who have been structurally excluded from jobs.

There is nothing innovative about marginalising people who are already made to feel that they have been stigmatised through drug-testing and cashless welfare cards.

There is nothing smart about a program like Path that uses young people for six months as cheap labour and then discards them.

We need to build a way forward that ensures that no one misses out on the essentials of life: a place to live, a place to work (or income adequacy for those who cannot engage in paid work), a place to learn (from early childhood through to university and TAFE), and a place to heal.

This means not just leaving these essentials to the whims of the market but actively ensuring that no one is excluded. This is an economic as well as a social imperative.

Inequality is buttressed and boosted by unfair rules that must be changed. We need to imagine a future predicated not on the perpetuation of inequality but the provision of social and economic security.

Inequality is neither a personal choice nor a national tragedy. It is a choice governments make.

Read the full article here.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Quotes of the Week

Why do so few make it out of poverty? I can tell you from experience it is not because some have more merit than others. It is because being poor is a high-risk gamble. The asymmetry of outcomes for the poor is so enormous because it is so expensive to be poor. Imagine losing a job because your phone was cut off, or blowing off an exam because you spent the day in the ER dealing with something that preventative care would have avoided completely. Something as simple as that can spark a spiral of adversity almost impossible to recover from. The reality is that when you’re poor, if you make one mistake, you’re done. Everything becomes a sudden-death gamble. [Christian H. Cooper writing at Nautilus on Why Poverty Is Like A Disease, 20 April 2017]

The total rate paid by a high earner on $200,000 is nothing like 50 per cent. The first $18,200 isn't taxed at all because of the tax-free threshold, the next $18,000 is only taxed at 19 per cent, and so on, meaning the total tax taken works out at $71,232 including levies – a rate of 35.6 per cent. [Economic Editor for The Age, Peter Martin, writing on 24 May 2017]

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

On any given night there are young people all over Northern NSW who need a safe home for a few nights.... and you can help!

Social Futures E-News February 2017:

Social Futures and Pathfinders are seeking Family Carers for HYAP (Homeless Youth Assistance Program) to open their hearts and homes for young people aged 12-15 years from Grafton to Tweed Heads.

Family Carers help young people to have some time out in a safe environment in order to help prevent them becoming homeless or being caught up in the cycle of homelessness.

Young people will be placed with Family Carers by our HYAP Case Managers for up to 28 days while they work with the young person and their family and extended family to heal ruptured family relationships and explore opportunities for long term, safe, supported accommodation.


Social Futures: Northern Rivers Social Development Council is a community based, not-for-profit social justice organisation based in Northern NSW.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The basic relationship between wealth, power, economic growth - globally and in Australia

It is no secret that the world is an unequal place when it comes to the distribution of wealth and the free exercise of political power.

This month Oxfam International released its Oxfam Briefing Paper January 2017, AN ECONOMY FOR THE 99%: It‟s time to build a human economy that benefits everyone, not just the privileged few.
This paper pointed out that new estimates show that just eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world.
That’s eight men in a global population of over 7 billion people.
The briefing paper went on to say:
By any measure, we are living in the age of the super-rich, a second "gilded age" in which a glittering surface masks social problems and corruption. Oxfam's analysis of the super-rich includes all those individuals with a net worth of at least $1bn. The 1,810 dollar billionaires on the 2016 Forbes list, 89% of whom are men, own $6.5 trillion – as much wealth as the bottom 70% of humanity. While some billionaires owe their fortunes predominantly to hard work and talent, Oxfam's analysis of this group finds that one-third of the world’s billionaire wealth is derived from inherited wealth, while 43% can be linked to cronyism.

On 16 January 2017 BizNews reported that:

The world’s 8 richest people are, in order of net worth:
1.    Bill Gates: America founder of Microsoft (net worth $75 billion)
2.    Amancio Ortega: Spanish founder of Inditex which owns the Zara fashion chain (net worth $67 billion)
3.    Warren Buffett: American CEO and largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway (net worth $60.8 billion)
4.    Carlos Slim Helu: Mexican owner of Grupo Carso (net worth: $50 billion)
5.    Jeff Bezos: American founder, chairman and chief executive of Amazon (net worth: $45.2 billion)
6.    Mark Zuckerberg: American chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Facebook (net worth $44.6 billion)
7.    Larry Ellison: American co-founder and CEO of Oracle  (net worth $43.6 billion)

8.    Michael Bloomberg: American founder, owner and CEO of Bloomberg LP (net worth: $40 billion)
Oxfam’s calculations are based on global wealth distribution data provided by the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Data book 2016.
The wealth of the world’s richest people was calculated using Forbes’ billionaires list last published in March 2016.
According to the Credit Suisse Research Institute in November 2016:

For financial wealth at least, direct estimates for the first quarter of 2016 were available for 27 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries account for 76% of global wealth in 2016.
Australia’s percentage share of global wealth was 2.5% in First quarter 2016, with 1.06 million individuals in a population of almost 23 million holding most of that wealth.
The wealth spread in Australia last year was calculated as:
§  20 individuals holding over US$1 billion each
§  39 individuals holding US$500 million-1 billion each
§  685 individuals holding US$100-500 million each
§  1,476 individuals holding US$50-100 million each
§  25,924 individuals holding US$10-50 million each
§  55,812 individuals holding US$5-10 million each
§  976,193 individuals holding US$1-5 million each
In Australia household gross wealth was estimated to be composed of 60.6% non-financial wealth and 39.4% financial wealth.
Forbes Media listed Australia's top eight richest people in 2016 as:

Blair Parry-Oakden - heiress to Cox Enterprises fortune ($8.8 billion)
Gina Rinehart - mining magnate ($8.5 billion)
Harry Triguboff - property developer ($6.9 billion)
Frank Lowy - co-founder Westfield Group ($5 billion)
Anthony Pratt - CEO Pratt Industries & global chair Visy Industries ($3.6 billion)
James Packer - media mogul ($3.5 billion)
John Gandel - property developer ($3.2 billion)
Lindsay Fox - trucking magnate ($2.8 billion)

On 20 August 2015 The Washington Post reported a new study (based on Does Wealth Inequality Matter for Growth? The Effect of Billionaire Wealth, Income Distribution, and Poverty, IZA DP No. 7733 November 2013 and later reworked as Billionaires and Growth by Sutirtha Bagchi and Jan Svejnar).

This study reportedly found that 65% of all billionaire wealth in Australia is based on political connections rather than on business innovation and, In sum, wealth inequality that comes from political connections is responsible for nearly all the negative effect on economic growth that we had observed from wealth inequality overall.

Or to put it another way, wealth amassed by certain billionaires world-wide, through the giving of political donations, public and private lobbying of politicians and/or the exchange of political favours, was responsible for nearly all declining economic growth this century

Monday, 17 October 2016

An est. 2.99 million people including 731,300 children are living below the poverty line in Australia, the 15th richest country in the world today

This was the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) tweeting on 15 October 2016 on the eve of Anti-Poverty Week, in the 15th richest nation in the world based on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita.

And these are some of the statistics informing its comment on the entrenched inequality in federal government economic and social policy in a country where in 2016 every person is nominally worth an est. $48,288 GDP per annum. 

Snapshot of poverty in Australia – in 2014:
· The poverty line (50% of median income) for a single adult was $426.30 a week. For a couple with 2 children, it was $895.22 a week.
· 2,990,300 million people (13.3% of the population), were living below the poverty line, after taking account of their housing costs.
· 731,300 children under the age of 15 (17.4% of all children) were living below the poverty line.
· Child poverty in Australia increased by 2 percentage points over the decade 200304 to 2013- 14.
· 36.1% of people receiving social security payments were living below the poverty line, including 55% of those receiving Newstart Allowance, 51.5% receiving Parenting Payment, 36.2% of those receiving Disability Support Pension, 24.3% receiving Carer Payment, and 13.9% of those on the Age Pension.
· 57.3% of people below the poverty line relied upon social security as their main income and 32.1% relied upon wages as their main income.
· Between 2012 and 2014, poverty rates increased for: children in lone parent families (36.8 to 40.6%), those receiving Youth Allowance (50.6 to 51.8% and those receiving Parenting Payment (47.2 to 51.5%). They remained very high (61.4% to 59.9%) from 2007 to 2014 for unemployed households.
· The vast majority of people below the poverty line were in rental housing in 2014 (59.7%), with most in private rental housing (44.2%). Only 15.5% of people living below the poverty line were home-owners.
The Poverty in Australia Report 2016 was produced in partnership with the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of NSW, with the support of the Australian Communities Foundation (Social Justice Fund), St Vincent de Paul Society, Mission Australia, and the Salvation Army. [ACOSS, 16 October 2016]

The ACOSS media release of 16 October stated:

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) today released a new report showing that 731,300 children or 17.4% of all children in Australia are living in poverty, an increase of 2 percentage points over the past 10 years (from 2004-2014).
The report finds that nearly three million people were living in poverty in Australia in 2014, or 13.3% of the general population.
“The overall picture from the last decade is one of persistent and entrenched poverty across the community with an increase in child poverty.
It is a national shame that after 25 years of economic growth, we have not done better at changing this trajectory and ensuring our most precious national resource, our children, are given the best possible start in life,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
“Those most at risk are children in lone parent families, who are more than three times likely to be living in poverty (40.6%) than those from couple families (12.5%). Since 2012, the poverty rate for children in lone parent families has gone up from 36.8 to 40.6%.
“The housing profile of people below poverty highlights the concentration of disadvantage in the rental market. The vast majority of people below the poverty line are in rental housing (59.7%), with most in private rental housing (44.2%). Only 15.5% of people living below the poverty line were home-owners.
“The report confirms that people who are unemployed are at greatest risk of poverty, with 63.2% living in poverty. Unsurprisingly, the majority of people below the poverty line relied on social security as their main source of income (57.3%), but a significant proportion received wages as their main income (32%). This indicates that having a job is no guarantee of keeping people above the breadline, especially if the job is low paying and insecure.
“Our report shows those doing it the toughest are overwhelmingly people living on the $38 a day Newstart payment, 55% of whom are in poverty. This is followed by families on Parenting Payment (51.5%), the majority of whom are lone parents with children.
“This report is a further wake up call to the Government to address the inadequacy of the lowest income support payments and bolster support to low income families through the family payments system. It is also a reminder that housing remains the biggest cost of living issue for households and must be addressed as a policy priority.
“Newstart and Youth Allowance are $110 and $158 a week below the poverty line respectively. Along with improvements to training and employment supports, an increase to these payments of at least $50 a week would go some way to alleviating poverty and improve people’s chances of finding paid work.
“The alarming increase in child poverty revealed by this report should also act as an urgent appeal to senators to reject further cuts to family payments, currently before the upper house. The cuts would strip another $60 a week from single parent families. The current proposal to withhold Newstart support for young people for up to four weeks should also be rejected. Both proposals would likely lead to increased poverty.
“At the start of Anti-Poverty Week, we call on all political leaders to put reducing poverty at the centre of the policy agenda. This must include assessing the poverty impact of all major policy changes,” Dr Goldie said.
The OECD Pensions At A Glance 2015 statistics indicate that 36 per cent of Australians receiving the aged pension also live below the poverty line – that’s well over 800,000 older people.
The Turnbull Government, like the Abbott Government before it, will quickly blame the poor for this problem as an excuse for inaction on its part.

This Anti-Poverty Week we can all email or ‘phone our federal MPs and senators and tell them there is no excuse for this level of poverty in a country which has experienced twenty-five years of continuous economic growth.

Contact details for member of parliament can be found at:

Friday, 22 April 2016

So you think Australia is an egalitarian society? Think again.

Based on the World Population Clock as of 16 April 2016, a total of 74 million people (The 1 Per Cent) are said to own approximately 48 per cent of the entire world’s wealth.

In 2015 the Credit Suisse Group calculated total global wealth at US$250 trillion. 

An est. US$7.6 trillion of this was held offshore in low taxing jurisdictions (tax havens) and the majority of offshore wealth is managed by just 50 big banks, with the 10 busiest banks managing 40 percent of these offshore assets, according to Oxfam Briefing Paper 210

How much this represents in lost tax revenue to the countries in which profits were generated is unknown.

However, there is some indication that despite many of the extremely rich having residences in more than one country and often living in constant movement between these homes, they are not above seeking political influence in those countries in which they may not be citizens.

In countries in which they conduct business they are also politically active. In Britain the Sunday Times Rich List for 2015 revealed that: In total, 197 people who have featured in Rich Lists between 2011 and 2015 contributed £82.4m, just under half of the £174.7m donated in private and corporate cash. 25 gave more than £1m. Seven donors gave more than £2m.

What this all means is that by 2015 The 1 Per Cent had amassed US$120 trillion for their own exclusive advantage and use and, of these an est. 7.4 million individuals have the biggest share of that very large slice of the global riches pie.

In that 7.4 million strong group there is old money and new money - heads of royal houses, heirs of fortunes established in previous generations, hedge fund billionaires, investment bankers, oil barons, mining tycoons, industrialists, shipping magnates, the odd digital genius or two, oligarchs, financiers and other disreputable individuals.

Oxfam pointed out in that in 2015, 53 men and 9 women out of these 7.4 million rich individuals had a total combined wealth of $1.76 trillion.

According to the Institute for Policy Studies, by 2015 in America the 20 wealthiest people owned more wealth than the bottom half of the American population combined - that is more wealth than a total of 152 million people in 57 million households.

For the same year, Forbes listed Australia’s 50 richest residents (our very own 0.00020 per cent) as having a combined personal wealth of $85.41 billion - which would roughly equate to 5% of this country’s gross domestic product for 2015.

Also in 2015 reported that the chief executive officers of Australia’s biggest corporations earned more than 100 times the annual salary/wage of the average worker - in some cases earning as much as $367,000 a week.

Going into 2015 Westpac Banking Corporation's CEO was already receiving an annual remuneration package worth an est. $13 million.

The gap between the very rich and the rest of Australia continues to grow.

In November 2015 Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that between 2003-04 and 2014-15 the 20% of individuals in the highest income quintile received 42 per cent or nearly half of the total growth in wages and salaries.
In September 2015 The Guardian reported that: The latest figures for Australian household incomes and wealth released last week showed that income inequality has risen in the past two years. The average annual income of the richest 20% rose by 7%, while median households saw their income rise by just 1.3% in the same period.

When one looks for evidence of political influence - it was not unknown for very large political donations from billionaires and millionaires to occur in years past, such as those from Lord Ashcroft and Reg Grundy. While in 2014-15 at least five of the first ten Australian billionaires included on the Forbes Rich List made more modest political donations - between $10,000- $100,000 and predominately to the Liberal-Nationals.

The rich tend to cluster together in life as well as politics. In 2015 Business Insider reported suburban clusters with the highest taxable incomes, of which the following are examples:

* Claremont-Claremont North-Karrakatta-Mount Claremont-Swanbourne, Western Australia, with 10,885 residents having a total combined average taxable income of est. $1.16 billion pa.
* Balmain-Birchgrove-Balmain East, New South Wales, where 10,515 have residents have a total combined average taxable income of est. $1.14 billion pa.
* Middle Cove-Castlecrag-Willoughby-North Willoughby-Willoughby East, NSW, with 10, 295 residents having a total combined average taxable income of est. $1.09 billion pa.
* Darling Point- Edgecliff-Point Piper, NSW, where 5,980 residents have a total combined average taxable income of est. $1.06 billion pa.
* Castle Cove, Roseville, Roseville Chase, NSW, with 8,985 residents having a total combined average taxable income of est. $976.68 million pa.
* Kooyong-Malvern-Malvern North, Victoria. where 7,755 residents have a total combined average taxable income of est. $817.36 million pa.

With all this conspicuous wealth in the top tier of a supposedly egalitarian society, one would expect that any journey towards the bottom of the pile would be more a gentle downward slope rather than a high drop from a cliff. 

However, in January 2015 there were 795,000 ordinary people at the bottom of that proverbial cliff, without a job and living on about $140 per week, and on any given night an est. 1 in every 200 men, women and children were without a permanent roof over their heads.

So when multi-millionaire Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull and Treasurer Scott John Morrison begin to explain on 3 May this year how the approximately 90 per cent of Australian households (who don’t have net worths calculated in double digit millions or billions) should start to live on less or expect diminished public health and education provisions in order ’to assist' the national balance sheet, I strongly suggest that every low-income household in this group consider giving both these gentlemen the raised middle finger.

For the last three years it has been those on the bottom tiers of the wealth pyramid who have borne the brunt of punitive federal budget measures and it is time to say “No more!”.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Committee For Economic Development Of Australia: more than a million Aussies living in poverty is a national disgrace

The number of Australians living in entrenched disadvantage is a disgrace and without a radical policy shake-up Australia will never reduce this number or the cost to taxpayers, CEDA Chief Executive Professor the Hon. Stephen Martin has said….
Professor Martin said the past 20 years had essentially been a massive failure by successive governments to address entrenched disadvantage and policies have been economically short-sighted…..
“We need to tear up the rule book and have a radical overhaul of how we tackle entrenched poverty. Labour market programs – essentially using a big stick to tell people they’ve got to get a job or face even further financial disadvantage – should not be the primary policy instrument for this group of people.
“It is absolutely clear that labour market policies have not worked because they fail to tackle the heart of the problem and yet it seems they are the only approach successive governments are willing to focus on.
“The main problem often isn’t that people don’t have a job, but the consequence of a range of other issues including education levels, mental health, social exclusion or discrimination. [Committee For Economic Development Of Australia (CEDA) media release 21 April 2015]

Excerpts from the Overview in the Committee For Economic Development Of Australia (CEDA) report, Addressing entrenched disadvantage in Australia April 2015:

How serious is disadvantage?

There are many ways to measure and define disadvantage, including the poverty line, the deprivation and the social exclusion approaches. Each method has its own shortcomings and strengths, with this study focusing on the deprivation and social exclusion approaches, as they are more representative of experienced disadvantage.

Using the 50 per cent of median income poverty line approach, and after taking into account housing costs, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) found that the threshold for poverty in 2011–12 was a disposable income of less than $400 per week for a single adult and $841 for a couple with two children. This implies that 13.9 per cent of the population (or 2.55 million Australians) had an income below that necessary to acquire a socially accepted standard of living.

An alternative to using poverty lines is to attempt to describe whether households have access to goods and services deemed necessary as defined by a survey of community attitudes (the deprivation approach). An example is the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) surveys conducted in 2006 and 2010 using a list of 25 items identified as essential for all Australians.

In Chapter 1 of this report, Professor Peter Saunders finds that deprivation (using the SPRC surveys) is highest among sole-parent households, and deprivation was pronounced in items that provide protection against future risks related to poor health and unforeseen circumstances (for example, dental treatment or emergency funds). He also finds that only about 40 per cent of those below the poverty line are considered deprived.

A third methodology, the social exclusion/inclusion approach, is generally seen as multidimensional, with concepts based on the capability and deprivation approaches. It captures social inclusion as having the resources; having opportunities and capabilities to work, learn and engage; and having a voice in society.

One such example is the Social Exclusion Monitor (SEM) by the Melbourne Institute and the Brotherhood of St Laurence.10 The SEM captures social exclusion through 30 indicators of disadvantage in seven life domains:

1. Material resources;
2. Employment;
3. Education and skills;
4. Health and disability;
5. Social connection;
6. Community; and
7. Personal safety.

The SEM finds that about five per cent of Australians faced deep social exclusion and a further one per cent faced very deep social exclusion in 2012, amounting to almost one million people, or about 39 per cent of those living below the poverty line, echoing the findings of SPRC’s deprivation approach……

…evidence of the persistence and of the risk of chronic poverty:

*About a quarter of the people who manage to exit poverty have returned to being poor within two years; and
* About 12 to 15 per cent of poor households are still poor 11 years later.

…individuals with a high risk of facing long-term disadvantage fall into the following categories:

* Those with low education attainment, including those who did not complete high school;
* Indigenous Australians;
* Households with someone living with a long-term health problem or disability;
* Those aged 65 and over;
* Jobless households; and
* Those living in disadvantaged areas……

Low-income individuals and households tend to have the poorest health outcomes: They are more likely to have higher mortality rates, lower life satisfaction, poor self-assessment of their health, and higher rates of long-term or severe health conditions.19 Individuals with poor health conditions are less likely to participate fully in the workforce and in some cases, particularly for the more acute and long-term illnesses, there is the additional cost of caring for those who cannot care for themselves……

Policy lessons While each of the three areas of disadvantage comes with its own challenges and policy implications, this study suggests some overarching perspectives that are applicable to all policies, regardless what aspect of disadvantage is being addressed. Entrenched disadvantage is a complex and significant problem: • An estimated four to six per cent of our society experiences chronic or persistent disadvantage. This amounts to about one to 1.5 million Australians; • Between 12 and 15 per cent of disadvantage spells last more than a decade; • The longer an individual spends with significant disadvantage, the more likely they are to be stuck in the spell; • The risk of falling back into a disadvantage spell is highest in the first two years of exiting poverty, affecting about a quarter of people who have exited; and • Children who grow up in a home with entrenched disadvantage are more likely to face the same problem……


Addressing entrenched disadvantage is an onerous task. Current policies are not working as well as we would hope and despite Australia’s relatively good economic performance, our scorecard when it comes to getting people out of the cycle of disadvantage has not been as good. There is a lot more work to do to reduce disadvantage and make sure it does not become entrenched. To do so would require a suite of policies that are evidence-based, focused on long-term objectives, with the view to address the drivers behind the persistence of entrenched disadvantage, including the need to ensure that individuals have the right environment (such as stable housing) to enable better participation. These policies would be subject to transparent evaluation, including ongoing evaluation to ensure they remain effective and have a long-term impact on individuals.

More research into the dynamics of disadvantage, perhaps through the development of better longitudinal data, is required to develop this suite of policies and to inform good policy. One thing is certain: Entrenched disadvantage is a complex problem and in the absence of appropriate and effective policies, it is not going away. A nation as rich as Australia has no excuse for not doing better – we can, and should, do better not just for the benefit of those who are disadvantaged, but for the benefit of all Australians.