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Anti-poverty priorities

By Kasy Chambers - posted Monday, 17 October 2016

The social services portfolios of federal and state governments lend themselves to buzz words.

While expressions like "priority investment" and "encourage people to seek work" seem well-intentioned they frequently don't reflect the complexity of poverty in Australia.

Anti-Poverty Week takes place this year between 18-22 October.


At Anglicare Australia, we've developed some Anti Poverty Priorities because it's clear to us, through consistent work across our network of 36 providers, that many Australians are doing it tough, and we need to think more laterally about how to address their varied needs.

We need to question the tacit assumption that changes to and for the individual will give them complete agency to change their whole circumstances.

As we have noted in our media commentary around this issue, enthusiasm for innovative approaches must be tempered with the acknowledgement that there is a wider economic story at play: that of too few jobs, not enough housing and, whilst on government benefits, not enough income.

More than ever, pressure is being placed on recipients of government benefits to step up and 'take responsibility', yet often for situations that are entirely out of their control.

Punitive measures like reducing social security payments and the idea of enforcing waiting times before payments can be accessed have been floated, and are being discussed in Parliament.

Our ongoing Anti-Poverty Priorities at Anglicare Australia are affordable housing, secure work and adequate income.


So, let's begin with housing. Our Rental Affordability Snapshot has consistently shown over the last seven years that affordable housing for those without secure work/adequate income is little more than a dream.

Over the first weekend in April, the Anglicare member network surveyed 75,410 rental properties across Australia and found just 21 properties were affordable for single adults living on Newstart, and only one was suitable for young people living on Youth Allowance.

And despite the higher level of pensions compared to allowances, affordable rentals were extremely limited for a single person living on any government payment. Even a single person on the minimum wage would have found only just over 5% of those properties affordable, and most of those rooms in share houses.

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About the Author

Kasy Chambers is the Executive Director of Anglicare Australia.

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