Poverty 'increasing in rich Australia'

UnitingCare is calling for an increase in the Newstart allowance to help tackle poverty rates among single parent families and children.



Australians may be the richest people in the world but new research shows the number of people struggling below the poverty line is increasing.

Only days ago a Credit Suisse 2013 Global Wealth Report revealed the median wealth of adult Australians stood at $233,504.

Median wealth is the midpoint between richest and poorest.

But UnitingCare research released on Saturday paints a different picture and reveals Australia's poverty rate has increased since 2000/01 from 10.2 per cent to 11.8 per cent.

Almost one-quarter of the 2.6 million Australians living under the poverty line are dependent children aged under 25, according to the UnitingCare Poverty, Social Exclusion and Disadvantage in Australia report.

Almost half a million are under 15.

The research also shows the poverty rate for single parent families is nearly 20 per cent - double that of the poverty rate for couples with dependent children.

Those out of work but searching for a job are also struggling.

UnitingCare says poverty rates have increased to 70 per cent in families where there is an unemployed person and no one else working.

The community services body says the findings reflected the paltry level of Newstart Allowance, which ranges from $501 a fortnight for singles and $542 for single parents.

This is in stark contrast to the global wealth report, which ranked Australia as second in the world for average wealth with $428,250.

Australia's household wealth per adult also grew by 2.6 per cent in the past year.

Reflecting on the newly released poverty rates, Uniting Care's Sally Cowling called for at least a $50 a week rise in the Newstart Allowance.

"The Newstart allowance should be increased because income support payments are designed to be a safety net for people looking for work," the charity's Sally Cowling told AAP.

"People should not live in poverty while they are looking for work."

2 min read
Published 11 October 2013 at 9:47pm
Source: AAP