The Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission has described as a 'sad indictment' a UNICEF report on the status of the world's children that places Australia ninth in a list 23 OECD countries in which relative child poverty still exists.
    John Ferguson, acting national director of the ACSWC, said the UNICEF report "cast doubt on the ability of economic policies and the leadership of developed nations to protect their own citizens from the scourge of poverty".
    Progress of Nations 2000, UNICEF's annual report, includes the most comprehensive estimate yet of child poverty in OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. It found one in six children - 47 million - in member countries were still living in poverty. Australia, ninth on the list, has 12.6% of its children living in relative poverty. But a number of wealthy countries performed worse than Australia, including the United Kingdom - where almost one in five children live in relative poverty - and the United States, where 22.4 per cent of children live in poverty.
    Assessing the low child poverty rates of the Nordic countries, the UNICEF report said this reflected "high levels of investment in family policies".
    Mr Ferguson commented that "the report shows the causes of child poverty are overwhelmingly structural with employment, wage inequality and inadequate assistance to vulnerable families being the main causes.
Cath Weekly
19 July 00

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