Louise Mullins, Queensland Council of Social Service

Would it surprise you to know that poverty and severe hardship affects more than a million Australians? And around the world more than a billion are desperately poor?

Anti-Poverty Week 2017 encourages all Australians to highlight issues of poverty and hardship here, at home, and overseas.

The week aims to:

  • Strengthen public understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and hardship around the world and within Australia;
  • Encourage research, discussion and action to address these problems, including action by individuals, communities, organisations and governments

Australians are encouraged to organise activities to address the issue of poverty and to act.

According to the Brotherhood of St Laurence understanding and measuring poverty and disadvantage has moved beyond a person’s income and assets, such as owning a home.

It now includes other essentials for participation in society, such as access to education, health services and transport and non-material aspects, such as stigma and denial of rights.

The concept of social exclusion captures the many overlapping factors that may exclude a person from society, rather than income alone.

A recent report from the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) looked at inequality in Australia and found that the gap between the lowest and highest groups of wealth and income is increasing.

ACOSS says that inequality undermines the fairness of our economic system and leads to division within society.

Evidence shows that countries with lower inequality tend to have faster and more lasting economic growth; and that countries with high inequality can experience high levels of violence, suicide, obesity, mental illness, imprisonment and shorter life expectancy.

During last year’s Anti-Poverty Week more than 600 organisations around Australia participated in more than 400 activities, with a total participation of more than 10,000 people.

Some activities are organised by welfare and health organisations, religious groups, community organisations, schools and youth groups. Other organisations involved include government departments, local councils, business organisations, universities, sporting and cultural groups.

Anti-Poverty Week is 15 to 21 October 2017. 

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