One in six Australian children is living in poverty, according to a new report to be released today at the start of Anti-Poverty Week. Source: The Guardian.
The UnitingCare report into child social exclusion – commissioned from the University of Canberra’s National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling – blamed housing stress and labour market changes for “highly persistent” social exclusion.
The report used 2016 census data and other data including Naplan results to measure both child poverty – where family income falls below the poverty line – and the broader measure of child social exclusion, which includes socioeconomic, education, connectedness, housing and health metrics.
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In 2016, 17.2 per cent of Australian children aged 0-14 years lived in poverty, it found. Excluding the Northern Territory, the highest rates of child poverty occurred in areas in Victoria outside of greater Melbourne (23.1 per cent) and in New South Wales outside Sydney (18.9 per cent).
Jurisdictions with significantly lower child poverty rates than the others included Queensland (15.7 per cent), Tasmania (14.7 per cent), the ACT (11.2 per cent) and the urban areas of the Northern Territory (10.8 per cent).
The report found that between the censuses in 2011 and 2016 “life became harder for all families owing to housing stress and labour market changes”. In 2016, nearly 35 per cent of children living in areas where the risk of social exclusion was high lived in families experiencing housing stress.
Rising high school completion rates since 2011 counterbalanced that in part, helping to improve child social exclusion.
In 2016, the Northern Territory (43.1 per cent) followed by Tasmania (34.1 per cent) and South Australia (26 per cent) had the highest prevalence of children at greatest risk of social exclusion.
Claerwen Little, UnitingCare Australia national director, said in a statement that “being excluded hurts children, families and the community”.
“This report provides strong arguments for holistic, preventative responses so that parents, carers and communities can better play their part in raising our children.”