PEOPLE need to speak out to raise awareness of the two million Australians living in poverty, the co-ordinator of the Brisbane-based Social Action Office (SAO) said last week after the release of a damning report about people living on the margins of society.
The Australia Fair: International Comparisons 2007 report, which was established by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), shows that the number of Australians living in poverty has increased over the past 10 years to two million people.
The report, looking at how Australia compares with other
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countires, outlined the latest research on the number of Australians living below poverty lines and identified where Australia was falling behind other nations.
The report stated that in 2004 more than 1.9 million, or almost 10 per cent of Australians, lived below the poverty line, estimated at an income of $249 a week per person.
SAO co-ordinator Presentation Sister Kathleen Tynan said the report showed more needed to be done by governments and individuals to address the issue of poverty in Australia.
“I think it’s valid to look at the (Federal) Budget surplus to find ways to help those on the margins of society,” Sr Tynan said.
Australia Fair spokesperson, Andrew Johnson, said, “In the current good economic times, with a large budget surplus, it’s not fair that two million Australians are struggling to access necessities like affordable housing and dental care.”
Jesuit Social Services associate director Fr Peter Norden said the report was “quite shocking”.
St Vincent De Paul National Council chief executive officer John Falzon said, “Governments need a comprehensive plan with targets to tackle disadvantage in Australia.”
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