Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 October 2009) . . Page.. 4508 ..
where participants go for seven days without using a credit card, which will help alleviate debt-induced poverty for thousands of Australians. Or there is the opportunity to make a 60-second video and have a say about what you would do to alleviate poverty if you were Prime Minister for a day. There are also unique local opportunities here in the ACT, such as the “battle of the chefs”, which was held at Kippax Uniting Community Centre, where two leading chefs and a home cook battled their skills against the difficulty of cooking on a very tight budget.
This evening Professor Julian Disney, who is the Australian chair of Anti-Poverty Week, will be speaking on “The social inclusion agenda: what does it mean for poverty in Australia?”, followed by discussion at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. Or you could join me and other MLAs tomorrow night in Civic by volunteering at the Vinnies night patrol van. However, if willing participants are unable to attend any of these events, I note that Gloria Jean’s coffee shops will donate 50 cents from each cappuccino sold to Opportunity International Australia to help people living in poverty. I am also pleased to note the continued success of events that are organised for Anti-Poverty Week, as more than 350 activities were registered on the Anti-Poverty Week website. There was an increase of 40 per cent this year—so 40 per cent more events this year than in the previous year.
However, the acute significance of this week lies in the fact that an increased number of Australians are living in poverty. Research commissioned last year by the Australian Council of Social Service, ACOSS, and conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, estimates that the number of Australians living in poverty has increased over the past decade with approximately 2.2 million people, or 11.1 per cent of Australians, living in poverty in 2006, compared with 9.9 per cent in 2004 and 7.6 per cent in 1994.
Child poverty is of particular concern. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 11.6 per cent of children aged up to 17 in Australia live in households with equivalent income less than 50 per cent of the median, compared to the OECD average of 12.2 per cent and Denmark and Finland where it is 2.4 and 3.4 per cent respectively. Overall, Australia is currently ranked a low 13 out of 19 OECD countries on the United Nations human poverty index, despite being third in terms of literacy, GDP and life expectancy.
Particular groups of people in Australian society are at high risk of poverty. ACOSS research shows that in 2006 certain groups were more likely to live below the poverty line, including 40.2 per cent of jobless people, 39 per cent of single adults aged over 65 years, 31 per cent of people whose main income is a social security benefit, 22.8 per cent of single adults of workforce age and 11.4 per cent of sole parent families. Yet, in spite of these statistics speaking for themselves, if you really stop and reflect on what would truly constitute living in poverty, it is incredibly saddening to think that fellow Australians and Canberrans must suffer in these circumstances.
Poverty is a relative concept used to describe people in society who are not able to participate in the activities that most people take for granted. However, the Australian Collaboration, which is a consortium of peak national community organisations representing social, cultural and environmental constituencies and interests, lists