When we think of the issue of poverty, it seems like a huge concept that is too hard to grasp. Claiming that we want to end poverty is a great statement to make. However in reality what are the actual real changes that the government and organisations can implement to make an actual systematic change in society. The main way to eradicate child poverty is at a fundamental level we need to change many of the systems that increase poverty and inequality.
So what are some actions that can be taken to reduce child poverty in Australia?
Researchers and organisations have identified reform proposals that are relevant to reducing child poverty in Australia. As outlined in the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s research the common proposals include:
- Improve the immediate living standards of children in low-income families especially through improvements to levels of income support to ensure all children are in families with an adequate income regardless of their parents’ situations, as well as improved access to low-cost services, particularly housing;
- Prevent families with children becoming poor, especially by reducing unemployment, preventing low-wage poverty and providing better assistance to unemployed and jobless parents to obtain work;
- Assist groups facing particular problems or risks including indigenous Australians, sole-parent and homeless families; and
- Improve child development, especially to redress the disadvantage that certain children may face.
At the core of all these issue is 5 main priority areas:
- Reducing unemployment without increasing wage poverty;
- Improvements to education and training which include greater attention to preschool intervention. To focus on improving the quality and experiences of schooling for children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Improvements to the affordability and security of housing in locations where employment and services can be readily accessed. To achieve this, the supply of low-cost housing must be increased along with action to prevent evictions and homelessness;
- Improvements to the affordability of child care and access to a number of health-related and family support services; and
- Improvements to income support arrangements such as payments to sole parents with older children and the easing of income tests.
If we want to make a tangible difference towards reducing child poverty we need to look at poverty as related to inequality. Poverty and inequality can isolate individuals from a lower socio-economic background because of their inability to afford the ‘culturally expected’ way of life.
Action to reduce child poverty cannot happen without some help. There needs to be political and community commitment and engagement for this issue to be addressed. Understanding how different strategies can improve disadvantaged families and children lives can help us develop into a better nation. Together we can create an Australia that is free from these social and economic inequalities.
Your Child Poverty Advocate,