Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been shedding some light on the prevalence and the issues surrounding child poverty in Australia and around the world. The question that still remains is how much child poverty actually exists in Australia and what is the extent of it?
There are a number of large variations in recent estimates of child poverty as it changes over time. The best estimate at this point is that 1 in 8 children in Australia are likely to be living in families with incomes below the half-average poverty line (before housing costs). While a higher proportion of children are living with families on low incomes that are only slightly above this figure. Once we take housing costs into account, this figure increases to 1 in 5 children in Australia that live in poverty.
Since the 1970s, the level of child poverty, that is the number of children in families with incomes below the poverty line, has increased to an extent. This rate has not reduced however the actual depth of child poverty has been slowly reducing over time. This means that over time there has been fewer children in families with incomes that are significantly below the poverty line.
The driving factor in this increase in child poverty has come from the low earnings of parents as a result of: unemployment, and low-wage earnings growth for parents with low sills and who are on low wages. The Australian government has made improvements for low-income families with children by placing incentives and subsidizing services that will help these low income families.
Compared to other developed countries, Australia’s child poverty rates are incredibly high. This comparison may overstate the relative poverty and inequality present in society. However these results do demonstrate that we need to do much better.
The position of families with children relative to other families appears to have deteriorated over time. This should be an area of concern for all those interested in the welfare and safety of all children. Another main cause for increased child poverty rates in Australia is the rising rate of young people aged 16 years and over who are either jobless or in a low-wage occupation.
We need to understand the cause and prevalence of child poverty in Australia so that we can start to find a solution for the problem.
Your Child Poverty Advocate,