New homeless figures a cause for great concern

MORE than two million Australians are living below the poverty line, with 620,600 of those also living with a disability, research by the Australian Council of Social Services revealed on Friday.

The new analysis of the ACOSS Poverty in Australia report released last year shows 27.,4% of people with a disability were living below the poverty line of 50% of media household income in 2010.

ACOSS chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said data for the number of people living in poverty with a disability were not available in time for the initial report.

She said the new figures were a cause for great concern, showing people with a disability or "core activity restriction' were more than twice as likely to be in poverty than other Australians.

"This compares with 12.8% of the overall population living in poverty, including 17.3% of children," she said.

"It's simply not good enough. We can and must do better."

Dr Goldie said the lack real employment opportunities were a main factor for the higher risk of poverty among disabled people.

"In 2009 only 54% people with a 'core activity restriction' were employed compared to 83% of people generally of working age," she said.

Dr Goldie said many people with disabilities also relied on social security, such as the Newstart Allowance and the Disability Support Pension.

But changes to the definition of "partial work capacity" had led to more disabled Australians being moved on to the lower paid Newstart Allowance, rather than the disability support pension.

"This is yet more evidence of the urgent need to increase the grossly inadequate Newstart Allowance payment which hasn't been increased in real terms for nearly 20 years," she said.

"People on this payment have to make do on just $35 a day which clearly isn't enough for anyone to live on, especially if you have added difficulties and costs associated with disability."

Dr Goldie said the latest report was a wake up call for the nation, and showed there was still a long way to go to give people with disabilities the opportunities as other Australians.


Key findings:

  • 2,265,000 people (12.8%) living below the internationally accepted poverty line.
  • 575,000 children (17.3%) were living below the poverty line.
  • 620,600 people with a disability (27.4%) were living below the poverty line.
  • 63% of people in unemployed households were below the poverty line.
  • 25% of people in lone parent households were below the 50% poverty line.
  • 37% of people in households whose main income was social security were living below the poverty line.
  • 14% of women were below the poverty line compared to 12% of men.
  • 54% of people living in households below the poverty line were female compared to 46% male.
  • 26% of adults living in households below the 50% poverty line came from a non-English-speaking-country.
  • The level of poverty was higher (13.1%) outside capital cities than in capital cities (12.6%).

SOURCE: ACOSS Poverty in Australia report.

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