One in six Australian children live in poverty, yet there is no official poverty line or monitoring of poverty in place.

Poverty has long-lasting and insidious impacts on a child’s health and well-being and can affect their schooling and employment opportunities throughout their entire lifetime. Given that the low rate of income support payments keeps many families in poverty, reducing child poverty is not inherently complicated. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government managed to lift 650,000 Australians, including children, out of poverty overnight by supplementing existing income support payments.

The Australia Institute recently conducted polling to determine community attitudes towards child poverty in Australia. This polling found that respondents were overwhelmingly supportive of government measures to reduce child poverty, including:

  • Four in five (83%) Australians support the Commonwealth Government regularly measuring and reporting on poverty rates in Australia.
  • Four in five (81%) Australians agree that income support payments should be set at a rate that do not cause any child in Australia to live in poverty.
  • Australians are highly concerned that Australia has a high child poverty rate compared to other developed countries (69%), its impact on children’s health and lifespan (83%), and on education and employment outcomes (85%).
  • Demographics were not a factor that influenced respondents’ opinions about child poverty.

Without an official measure of poverty it is difficult to address the problem. Our polling shows that most Australians want the Commonwealth Government to measure poverty, and that most also support policies that would reduce rates of child poverty. It is time for the Commonwealth Government to hear these calls, raise income payments to a rate that would pull households out of poverty, collect and publish data on poverty that would inform policymakers and keep poverty on the agenda, and take transformative action towards permanently eliminating child poverty.

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