Poverty rises, report says

The number of Australians living below the poverty line has risen in the past few years, according to a study from the University of Melbourne.

The survey, which tracks 17,000 households found that poverty had increased in 2017 among all family types except couples with children.

Child poverty rates among single parent families hit 19.2 percent. The rate was even higher among elderly single people, with elderly single women in excess of 30 percent.

The report’s co-author, Professor Robert Wilkins, has cast blame on changes to Australia’s welfare payments system.

“We have seen an uptick in measures of poverty in the last couple of years on the back of fairly substantial declines over this century,” he said.

The findings come amidst a political debate about the rate of the Newstart allowance, which is currently set at $277.85 a week for singles.

While the report does not name any specific reasons, Professor Wilkins told The Guardian that there were a number of contributors, including “things like progressively [moving] more people onto Newstart from higher benefits like parenting payment single and the disability support pension.”

The Senate is currently conducting an inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart and related payments. The Senate inquiry is due to report by 27 March 2020 and will take submissions from members of the public until 13 September.

Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor




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