Australia must do more to fight poverty at home and overseas

 In Cambodia, Australian Aid is improving access to quality education for children like Kanha and Munyroath

Photo: In Cambodia, Australian Aid is improving access to quality education for children like Kanha and Munyroath

20 October 2016: Over 30 international development organisations and Australian-based social welfare groups, including ChildFund Australia, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the Campaign for Australian Aid, have called on the Australian government to take meaningful action to fight domestic and global poverty.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during Anti-Poverty Week, the 36 signatories state: “No Poverty is the number one UN Sustainable Development Goal that the Government signed in 2015. Those goals apply globally and here in Australia. We urge you to commit the Government to ending poverty here in Australia, while also doing our fair share as a good global citizen to ending poverty globally.”

Currently, Australia has no established national definition of poverty, and the letter urges the Government to immediately adopt the OECD poverty line, set at 50 per cent of median income. Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS, said: “Most alarmingly, 17.4 per cent of all children in Australia are living in poverty, an increase of 2 percentage points over the past 10 years.”

And while the number of people globally living on less than $1.25 a day has been reduced by almost half during the last decade, approximately 836 million people still live in extreme poverty.

CEO of ChildFund Australia Nigel Spence said: “Six million fewer children die today than in 1990. Australian Aid has contributed to this achievement, and we have much to be proud of.

"But consecutive budget cuts to the aid program has reduced Australia’s support to developing countries to the lowest level in our history. If we are serious about addressing poverty, we need a solid plan of action that recognises the value of investing in programs that improve living standards for all children, both in Australia and our wider global neighbourhood.”

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