Vinnies chief says poverty now affects workers
St Vincent de Paul national president John Moore told a Senate inquiry that poverty has ensnared ordinary workers and no longer applies just to the homeless or unemployed.
Vinnies figures show that on average almost one-third of Australian households cannot afford to take a holiday for at least a week every year.
Another 19% of families could not scrape together enough for a night out once a fortnight.
At the bottom end, 3% of households go without meals and 2% couldn't afford to heat their home in the winter months.
"Poverty (in Australia) is not comparable with that in Third World countries," he said. "However, if the rich-poor gap is allowed to widen further, some Australians are in danger of experiencing, over time, Third World conditions.
"Overall the poor are caught in the jaws of low incomes and rising prices, which reinforce and prolong their predicament."
While the poor grew poorer, the inquiry found the rich were constantly finding new means to hide their wealth in schemes such as family trust funds.
The six-month Senate inquiry into poverty around Australia will recommend the setting up of a taskforce based on an Irish Government initiative which aims to break the cycle of children trapped by poverty.
Senate Inquiry Into Poverty and Financial Hardship | Submissions
St Vincent de Paul Society Ozanam Lecture - Helen Johnston, Head Irish Combat Poverty Agency
Vinnies urges fairer tax system (29/7/03)
2 Sep 2003