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Entrenched disadvantage at heart of inequality in Australia, children not immune

​Save the Children welcomes the findings of the Productivity Commission’s stocktake on rising inequality and its emphasis on the complexity of disadvantage in Australia.
30 August 2018

As a nation, Australia has enjoyed nearly three decades of uninterrupted economic growth, however some Australians are being left further behind.

In fact, the report highlights that there are certain groups of Australians at high risk of experiencing entrenched poverty, deprivation and social exclusion. About two million people, or just under 10 per cent of our population, are living in income poverty. Children under the age of 15 were specifically identified by the Productivity Commission as a group exhibiting the highest levels of poverty, which is deeply concerning.

Save the Children Director of Australian Services Heather Finlayson said the report highlighted children living in these circumstances were at risk of suffering from a lifetime of disadvantage.

“Poverty, deprivation and social exclusion is not only damaging for a child right now, it has flow on effects for the rest of their lives. It will impact their engagement with education, future employment and their prospect of living a happy and productive life,” Ms Finlayson said.

“The time for action is now. Save the Children urges the Federal Government to look for new solutions, such as ‘hand-made’ policies suggested by the Productivity Commission, to better address specific needs.

“It is time for politicians to stop putting entrenched disadvantage in the ‘too hard basket’ and work with communities and other organisations to find better ways of untangling these complicated cycles. Our children deserve no less than that.”

Ms Finlayson said for those experiencing entrenched disadvantage, particularly children, clearly three decades of economic growth had not been enough to lift them out of poverty.

“Addressing entrenched disadvantage is not simply a matter of providing one service, or one type of support, as the elements of disadvantage often include a diverse range of factors,” Ms Finlayson said.

“Many of the children, families and communities we work with experience multiple barriers, including poverty, in their daily lives and we recognise that it is difficult to identify a single solution to tackle this critical social issue.”

About half of Save the Children’s work is in Australia, seeking to break the cycle of disadvantage by ensuring all children are supported for healthy development. This includes supporting families to ensure they have the best environments for a child to grow up, access to quality early education and support to improve levels of school engagement and attendance.

You can read the Productivity Commission’s stocktake here.

For interviews, call Jess Brennan on 0421 334 918

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