Poverty In Australia Essay, Research Paper
Many people think that Australia is a rich country. They think just because most of our population is not dying of starvation and completely curable diseases such as influenza that Australia does not have many problems when it comes to poverty. In truth, even the poorest Australians would be considered lucky in many overseas countries such as Africa and India. But even if Australians living in poverty are lucky as compared to those in overseas countries, the fact still remains that poverty in Australia is widespread.
So what do we mean when we say the word poverty? Well of course, there are the slang terms such as povo which many use to describe people or places that they consider are not up to their standards. The dictionary meaning is the condition of being poor with respect to money, goods, or means of subsistence. The exact meaning of poverty is quite ambivalent, but it generally it means living below the general standard of life in your country. This means that it changes in each country. For example, a family living in a tin shed eating one or two meals a day would be considered poverty stricken in the western world, but in places like Africa and India this same family could be considered as comparatively fortunate.
There are many types of poverty. These include: Primary poverty (when income does not cover the costs of basic needs such as food, clothes and shelter), Secondary poverty (when income is sufficient, but is unwisely used eg. gambling), case poverty (people who are extremely underprivileged), insular poverty (people who live in a poverty-stricken area, these are regarded as always has been and always will be poor ), absolute poverty (the absence of food, clothing and shelter necessary for survival), comparative poverty (the absence of necessities which maintain the minimum standard of living in a community), personal poverty (the absence of those which the individual has become accustomed.)
Sociologists have found that the poor fall into a number of categories. These categories are the groups that are most affected by poverty in Australia:
+ Pensioners this group includes the elderly, and other people on pensions, including disability support pension and workers compensation. In June 1997 it was found that pensioners had a one in five chance of living below the poverty line.
+ Sole parent families approximately 56.2% of women who are bringing up children alone are living below the poverty line. Sole-parent pensioners with three children live on an income $41 below the poverty line.
+ Large families large families are classified as families with four or more dependent children. Of these, 22% are poor.
+ Aboriginals the indigenous Australians are one group who is under great genuine deprivation. One third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are homeless or live in sub-standard accommodation. Indigenous Australians have a life expectancy 15 20 years below the national average.
+ Students the number of students living in poverty is very hard to pinpoint, although many students are living on pensions. Independent students receive about $119.65 a week. Many consider this as quite a bit, but when you consider the cost of housing, clothing, food and school or university fees you realise that this is barely sufficient.
On top of these categories there are average families who are living in poverty. This can happen for many reasons such as illness or unemployment. 13% of families with two adults and two children are living below the poverty line.
Nevertheless, poverty in Australia seems much less of a problem when we compare it to poverty in third-world countries. These people are dying of starvation and do not have things like toys, schools and in many cases even clothes. Despite the fact that many aid groups exist, they do not have pensions which help them to afford the necessities in life. But despite this, many Australians are living in poverty, and we cannot ignore this.
There are many services offered to help those living in poverty both nationally and internationally. Internationally these services mainly provide relief for those who are starving. They provide things such as schooling, food, clothes and shelter for the individual, as well as water systems and farming equipment for villages. Organisations that provide such services include Community aid abroad, World Vision and Food for the Hungry. These organisations gain money in various ways. These include child sponsorship, the forty-hour famine, winter sleepouts and receiving donations.
Services in Australia include Centrelink, St Vincent De Paul s, Legal Aid and the Salvation Army. Centrelink pays pensions to those who are eligible to receive them. These pensions include Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment, Sickness Allowance, Old Age pensions and Carer Allowance. The easiest way to find out information on Centrelink is to look up their website (www.centrelink.gov.au) which give much information on pensions and who is entitled to them. Legal Aid provides the poor with information on their rights, and also arranges court representation for anyone unable to afford a lawyer.
The Salvation Army and St Vincent De Paul s provides relief for the poor in Australia. They offer homeless people food and shelter, as well as having many second-hand stores where people can buy cheaper clothes. These charity organisations as well as a few others organise things such as Christ Kindle in which people leave presents under a tree for the Salvation Army to give to those less fortunate than them.