National strategy needed to fight child poverty

With child poverty in Australia now at a level of 14.9 per cent, Australia needs a national anti-poverty strategy, Vinnies CEO says.

The Catholic Weekly reports that in the lead up to the Federal election, the Society has made a plea for political action to assist children in low-income households.

The latest UNICEF report on child poverty indicates that Australia's level of child poverty has worsened marginally over the last 10 years.

Dr John Falzon, chief executive officer of the Society's national council, said "one in every three homeless Australians is a child". And two in every three children who need support are "turned away from homelessness services".

Countries with strong social services such as Finland, Sweden and Denmark had significantly better outcomes for children.

"Australia has a child poverty rate of 14.7 per cent – this is nowhere near as bad as the USA with its massive child poverty rate of 21.9 per cent," Dr Falzon said.

"Neither, however, is it anywhere near as good as Denmark's rate of 2.4 per cent.'

He added: "We've just witnessed the reports of there being close to one million working poor in Australia.

"Then there are the families that are outside the labour market and struggling to survive on sub-standard pensions and benefits, facing the threat of being breached, and battling the horrendous costs of housing, especially in the private rental market."

Vinnie's National Social Justice Committee chair, Anthony Dalton, also declared that "governments must invest heavily in early childhood and parenting support centres, so that irretrievable harm to developing children can be avoided in Australia."

Child poverty: Vinnies in plea for government strategy (Catholic Weekly, 27/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)

Budget should be statement of values: Vinnies chief (CathNews, 8/5/07)

24 May 2007