This week marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of Anti-Poverty Week. It is a timely opportunity to think about what experiencing poverty means in Australia in 2012 and more importantly, what can be done to address it.

Walking on by. Pic: Damian Shaw

Australia is undoubtedly doing very well on most economic and social indicators. We have had largely uninterrupted economic growth for the last 20 years, survived the GFC without too much pain, unemployment remains very low and high school completion rates are the highest they have ever been.

You could be forgiven for thinking that poverty is not an issue that should concern us greatly.

Yet this does not tell the full story. Research consistently shows that these headline indicators mask the fact there has been a group of Australians who have consistently missed out on these good times.

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) report released earlier this week showed that 2.2 million Australians live below the poverty line and this includes 580,000 children. That’s one in six children growing up in poverty.

The Australian Social Inclusion Board’s 2012 How Australia is Faring report tells us that amongst those experiencing poverty there are 640,000 working age Australians who experience high levels of social exclusion. These people are effectively locked out of employment and trapped in a cycle of poverty.

The St Vincent de Paul Society’s 16,000 members, staff and volunteers witness the devastating impact of this poverty on families right across NSW on a daily basis. We see the pressure the increased cost of living is having on people as they turn to charities for assistance, sometimes for the first time in their lives.

We work with people who are homeless or families fleeing domestic violence who struggle to find safe and affordable accommodation to rebuild their lives and reconnect with their community.

We see the grinding impact that poverty has on families and witness the impacts of intergenerational poverty. Children growing up in communities where there is little opportunity and hope for a future, where even modest dreams of an education and job are out of reach.

The impacts of poverty on Australia’s Indigenous population are devastating. These communities experience a lower life expectancy, higher rates of infant mortality, higher unemployment rates, and a lack of access to health services and education.

This is not acceptable for a country as rich and as prosperous as ours. We should all take stock and consider what can be done to address these issues.

Housing costs are the single biggest driver of poverty and disadvantage in Australia. We should have a housing market that delivers for everyone. At the moment we have a housing market that produces huge gains for some, largely as a result of the tax incentives, and at the same timer drives others into poverty or keeps them in the cycle of homelessness.

This is an issue that we as a community need to confront. Blaming current Governments or saying one political party has responded more effectively than another is not helpful. Successive governments over decades have failed to adequately grapple with this issue.

The housing market we have at the moment is broken and it needs to be fixed.

Firstly, we must reform the range of taxation arrangements currently on offer. The $6 billion of negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions currently provided on an annual basis, encourage speculation in the housing market and drive up house prices. They also do little to increase the supply of housing as 92 per cent of the investment goes to existing housing stock. 

One option is to limit the tax concessions to investments in affordable housing or the supply of new housing.

I refuse to believe that we are not capable of reforming these tax arrangements despite the political difficulty in doing so. Past and present government have achieved much greater reform.

Second, we need to review the Commonwealth rent assistance scheme. This program costs $3 billion a year and 75 per cent of those who receive it are still in housing stress. This money could be better targeted to those who are in most difficulty.

Finally, we must consider the role that public and community housing plays in our housing market. The reality is that for some people the ebb and flow of the private rental market is simply too brutal. Public and community housing provides security of tenure and rent set at a level that allows people to rebuild their lives. It provides a vital safety net and must be invested in at appropriate levels.

What is required is fundamental reform not tinkering and an environment in which the full range of options can be considered.

This week we have seen a range of statistics on poverty released that draw attention to the problems. It is now time for action and fixing the housing market is a good place to start. If we do not take bold and decisive action now it will condemn many thousands of future Australians to a life of poverty and disadvantage.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST.

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    • Fiddler says:

      05:58am | 18/10/12

      By 1990 no Australian child will be living in poverty…...

    • Anna C says:

      09:50am | 18/10/12

      Yeah Labor, how is that working out for you?

    • fml says:

      10:31am | 18/10/12

      Alright until the liberals changed the definition of poverty.

    • Old Union Money says:

      11:54am | 18/10/12

      When I walk out my front door and look up and down my street, while I wait for the chauffeur to bring the car round, I see no poverty…......

    • PJ says:

      02:21pm | 18/10/12

      It’s the Labor Policy of mass immigration and housing sales to overseas investors that has affected the lower orders of Australian society.

      Some 9 percent of our workforce is overseas temporary workers on 457 visas and there are 307,000 student visas. The 457 visa holders are expected to grow by another 22 percent this year and 89 percent of all ‘Student Visa’ applications are accepted.

      In the past Immigration has dropped the requirement for a profession and finances to enter Australia and has accepted non skilled, barely English speaking labour to bolster immigration numbers. We are on course for the Big Australia and 40 million population that will benefit the rich.

      The Government allows the purchasing of Australian homes by non residents, which are often overseas businessmen arranged into a Property Investment Group. Property ownership leads to Australian residency.

      The Governments Mass Immigration and Housing policy;
      - unnaturally inflates the cost of housing in Australia, renting and buying.
      - makes available mass resources for employers to chose from, allowing them to reduce wages and working conditions.
      - creates cases of employer abuse in the workplace.
      - stifles the requirement on employers to train Australians in required skills, because they can just ‘get a new one with those skills.’
      - makes available domestic services the upper middle class could previously not afford, like gardeners, home cleaners and child minders.
      - creates homelessness and long term unemployed.

      We used to have 16 percent of our GDP going towards our 4.8 percent unemployed, Labors overseas benchmarking trip in 2010 showed them that they could push the boundaries of voter acceptance because in Europe some States pay up to 40 percent of GDP as dole.

      The above is no surprise, because it’s text book cause and effect stuff, the big question is why does a Socialist Government practice it? Especially one that claims to be ‘for working families.’

    • craig2 says:

      06:02am | 18/10/12

      Ain’t life a bitch?

    • fml says:

      07:58am | 18/10/12

      Ain’t life a glitch?

    • Super D says:

      06:20am | 18/10/12

      ACOSS continues to use a relative measure of poverty. Currently they define poverty as earnings of less than half the median income. This means that if the median income is 60k then anyone on less than 30k is poor. As incomes rise so does the threshold so the problem can never be solved no matter how adequate living standards for low earners are.

    • gnome says:

      09:52am | 18/10/12

      Funny isn’t it, how a supposed expert on the subject can write a huge article about poverty, using the term “poverty line” without bothering to tell us what level that is?  Makes it look like he is embarrassed to quote it.

      Perhaps the quickest way to reduce poverty is to lower the “poverty line”.

    • Sloan says:

      11:00am | 18/10/12

      @Gnome

      Be even quicker to just euthanize the poor. You know I am right.

      Or, we could sterilize them and in one generation we would have removed that surplus population from our society. Much more humane.

      Just want to hope you don’t fall under that line for some reason Gnome.

    • Richard says:

      01:40pm | 18/10/12

      @Sloan Stuff sterilization . Bring in Soylent Green and both age / food problem solved. Don’t let anyone know how Soylent Green is made. The other option could be Logans Run. You have everything you want or desire until the big 45, then off to carousel.

    • gnome says:

      03:48pm | 18/10/12

      Sloan- we meet again-is “euthanise” lawyerspeak for “euthanase”? I guess it’s the little things that cause your wife to be the barrister while you lurk in the shadows soliciting?

      Your little straw men don’t help (again)?  Do you know what the poverty line is?  Can you connect it with any measures of disadvantage?

      At the moment I wouldn’t care whether I fell under the line or not, and if the line shifted I wouldn’t see any reason to change this attitude.  It’s an arbitrary figure which means nothing outside the welfare industry world.  In the real world one size doesn’t fit all.

      Still, it would be nice if we could organise euthanisation (lawyerspeak for euthanasia) for brain dead lawyers.

    • Don says:

      06:27am | 18/10/12

      This is about the fourth article this week I have noticed which is asking for the reform or repeal of negative gearing. No coincidence then that this one is straight from the PM’s office. Using a famous character’s lines:

      “When you have to shoot….shoot. Don’t talk.”

    • acotrel says:

      06:28am | 18/10/12

      Local councils don’t seem to have the intent to help people who are in the poverty trap.  As a kid, I used to see enamel signs on buildings saying ‘no hawkers or canvassers’.  If you even wanted to sell the fruit off your backyard trees at the side of the road, the Compliance Officer would be looking at you.  Many councils have no hard rubbish collection for residents, and so the people who might also collect and resell have no opportunity.  Car boot sales and Sunda y markets are usually set up so that someone collects a fee from stall holders, and the council parking officers are ther to collect the councils bit too. If you want to build a workshop in your backyard the council often looks askance at the idea. One of the worst aspects, in my opinion is that there is usually no council facility to recycle old computers due to paranoia about being sued for electrical faults.  I believe most middle aged, middle class peiople would have at least one old computer stashed away which could get a poor person onto the web to find a job.. If we look at who actually makes up most of the local councils, and their attitudes towards both non-rate payer, and househoilders, it is pretty obscene

    • bananabender56 says:

      07:46am | 18/10/12

      I recently tried to give away a perfectly functioning ink jet printer (I need a wireless model so upgraded) to the Salvo’s - only to be told we don’t take printers. The printer went in the bin outside the shop.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      08:31am | 18/10/12

      @bananabender56 I actually asked the Salvos or it may have been St Vinnies, why they didn’t accept electronic goods (I had a couple of tv’s etc) and it’s related to liability, if the product is faulty and is sold and then causes damage, etc then the seller is liable for selling a faulty product.

    • bananabender56 says:

      08:48am | 18/10/12

      @PH I can understand that but it wouldn’t take much to test the printer I had. Hell, it even came with the CD, manual etc. It just seemed such a waste and completely against what I thought the Salvo’s were trying to do.

    • Gordon says:

      01:49pm | 18/10/12

      You have made a good point. A lot of poverty is created the cheap option being ruled out for arbitrary reasons, and by free things being priced out of the reach of poor people. Sure, it’s not third-world starve-to-death poverty, but it contributes to a feeling of being left on the outside.
      Day at the beach?  pay for parking. Going camping: bring ya wallet. Day in the snow: forget it.

    • Tubesteak says:

      06:58am | 18/10/12

      Ross Gittins’ article yesterday showed the poverty line is a completely arbitrary 50% of the median income. Already any stats on poverty are going to be meaningless

      You have universal health care and universal education in this country. Get an eduction. Get a job. Work. Don’t put out your hand for handouts. There is no excuse. Get on with it and stop trying to spend other people’s money

    • Sync says:

      09:59am | 18/10/12

      I work full time, my wife works part time. We earn our incomes, we pay our taxes, bills, etc… Cost of Living is going up faster than our incomes. We can’t cut much out of our spending because we don’t spend much that isn’t related to the above. Care to explain that to me?

    • Bitten says:

      10:01am | 18/10/12

      @Tubesteak: thank you for picking up the ‘poverty line’ falacy.

    • Sloan says:

      11:13am | 18/10/12

      Yes indeed. Lets get rid of all hand outs.

      1. Subsidised healthcare for all through Medicare. Get rid of Medicare, why should the healthy pay for the sick? Oh, you don’t see the shared cost of Medicare as a handout? You have no problem asking childless couples to pay for your children then? Or the young worker subsiding a new hip for an older person? That is a handout if ever I saw one.

      2. Baby bonus. 5k for a kid is nothing but a handout. I do not even have to explain that one.

      3. Family tax benefits (A and B) Nothing but a handout. Axe it.

      4. Education. Why should other people have to pay for the education of your children. Reach into your own pocket if you want them educated and stop asking the rest of the community for a handout to pay for their education!

      5. The aged pension.  What the! You had your whole life to prepare for your retirement and you did nothing. Much like the parable of the ant and the grasshopper don’t expect the rest of society to give you a handout just because you failed to prepare for old age. This is nothing but a handout. Greedy old buggers putting out their hands every fortnight simply because they chose not to save. Go beg for all we care eh Tubesteak!

      That is just a short list of some of the handouts avaliable in Australia Tubesteak. I am so glad you refuse them all. You do refuse them all, don’t you?

    • Tubesteak says:

      01:16pm | 18/10/12

      Sync
      Maybe work more. Cut your expenses. Get a better paying job. I haven’t seen my expenses go up (including electricity) so you must be doing something wrong.

      Sloan
      If everyone is contributing to something then it’s not a hand-out. It becomes a hand-out when it is selectively applied to buy votes. Same as with roads – you use them, right?
      However, I have private health insurance so I am largely funding my own burden. Not that I have a burden. Haven’t seen a doctor in years. No need. When I do I pay. Not only that but I pay more than the median wage in tax every year.
      Get rid of baby bonus and FTB and all the other little benefits and concessions. Absolutely.
      I’ve said a few times we should have private education. But we deal with what we have.
      Aged pension – by the time I will retire there won’t be one. This was stated by Paul Keating back when he was PM. We have super. That’s the point. Support yourself.
      Pretty much all the hand-outs you just listed I have never used as I am not eligible. I’m a single white male on a 6-figure income. There are no hand-outs for me.

    • Bitten says:

      02:25pm | 18/10/12

      I love it when you smackdown Tube smile

    • Tim says:

      08:14am | 18/10/12

      When you define poverty as 50% of the median wage you are completely cheating on the definition.

      Very few people in Australia are objectively living in poverty, a lot of people simply can’t afford the luxuries that others can due to their work. Well tough, that’s life.

    • stevem says:

      08:57am | 18/10/12

      If you were to double the income of every Australian overnight, this measurement would result in not one person being lifted out of poverty. It may be an easy yardstick to apply, but hardly meaningful.

    • fml says:

      09:43am | 18/10/12

      I only live below the poverty line because of the money I spend on smokes and booze, not my fault really. I am not being facetious, I just really like smokes and booze.

    • fml says:

      09:43am | 18/10/12

      Also, you won’t hear me complain about it because I have my smokes and booze.

    • Max Redlands says:

      10:14am | 18/10/12

      Indeed. A simple solution to having so many people below the poverty line is obvious.

      Lower the line.

    • Tim says:

      12:29pm | 18/10/12

      fml,
      I just spend all my money on Hookers and Blow. I can’t even afford food because of it.
      Surely I should be eligible for a government hookers and blow allowance? It’s reel tough here ya know.

    • fml says:

      01:17pm | 18/10/12

      Tim,

      If only they teach people how to budget on the dole! I do feel for you, no one should have to put up with second rate hookers or blow.

    • the moor says:

      08:22am | 18/10/12

      Poverty would be less of a problem in this country if we had a more equitable society rather than one where some get paid very generously for what they do and where the tax system was not so easily rorted to those same people’s advantage.

    • Tubesteak says:

      09:04am | 18/10/12

      We have an equitable society. You get out what you put in. You have every opportunity to explout your talent for personal gain. You can’t get more equitable than that.

      Then if you are successful you pay more tax at a higher rate than anyone else.

      If you buy an investment you can claim deductions greater than the income that it earns but only to the extent you start making overall tax losses.

    • GigaStar says:

      09:31am | 18/10/12

      WTF - I hate this leftie argument!! Why shouldn’t people get paid very generously for what they do? If you have bothered to get yourself an education and work hard why should you be held back by some lazy prick who can’t be bothered. You’re tying wages to the lowest denominator and laziness.

      I come from low paid factory worker parents who had no money so I had to work full-time and got my degree via correspondance. There is no lack of opportunities for these people, there is only apathy on their part. Why should everyone else be held back because of them or because of bleeding-heart lefties.

    • Anna C says:

      10:03am | 18/10/12

      What is important is trying to ensure that all Australians have access to educational and work opportunities.  If people choose to ignore those opportunities then that is their own choice and they must face the consequences such as low income/poverty.  Australia is a wealthy and generous country (e.g. Austudy, HECS etc) and there really should be no excuses.

    • the moor says:

      10:39am | 18/10/12

      I don’t object to people working hard and getting paid well for it but what I do object to is the growing disparity between what some are being paid for what they do.  There is a trend in this country away from the egalitarian principles that this country used to pride itself on and a growing lack of social compassion.  Creating an underclass is not in our best interests.

    • nihonin says:

      10:55am | 18/10/12

      the moor’s solution to their poverty…......gimme gimme gimme more for nothing.

    • Sloan says:

      11:16am | 18/10/12

      @GigaStar

      You may have obtained a degree but you clearly did not obtain an education.

    • the moor says:

      11:49am | 18/10/12

      nihomin aptly demonstrates the point of what I am saying.  People whose prime motivation is self interest without consideration of the consequences on others are not good citizens and don’t build good societies.  Quite the opposite in fact.  The Liberal Party of 40 years ago understood that the whole is more important than the parts and built a great Australia for all because of that belief.  We need more of that belief and less of the greed that is so self evident today.

    • Tubesteak says:

      03:39pm | 18/10/12

      A good citizen is someone that gets a job, looks after themself and doesn’t constantly stick their hand out for money or whinge about other people being richer than them

    • concerned citizen 1 says:

      10:13am | 18/10/12

      Australians need to take a closer look at what they value and learn to judge others LESS. “Earning $150K makes you wealthier than 99% of the world”, Australian Steve Killelea, (founder of the global peace index, speaking at Philanthropy Australia Conference Sydney 2012). The cost of living doesn’t help, heck my rent has gone up $70/week in less than two years…greed and bad stereotypes are everywhere!

    • Michael S says:

      12:22pm | 18/10/12

      When the cost of living is increasing by more than CPI, it’s a problem.

      Especially the cost of housing, which whether buying or renting, has tripled in real terms in the last 25 years. It’s supply and demand - while population is growing faster than housing stock, prices will continue to rise.
      Unless immigration is capped at the level of dwelling construction, then as a society we’re going to have to accept that having a roof over one’s head is only for the wealthy; and that for everyone else, sleeping rough on the streets is normal.

    • Ross says:

      10:27am | 18/10/12

      I used to think I cared about the young people of this country but the way things are going I really don’t. The mainstream media are all opinionates not news reporters. The politicians are not worthy of their pay packets, let alone respect.
      We are selling off everything of value. We treat refugees like criminals and real criminals as heroes.
      We still think religion will solve our problems. Which one Scientology, Catholics, or Muslims, etc? 
      We put far too much stock in the opinion of vested interests and media blowhards than we should.
      We are not creating full time jobs that we need. Not just jobs for the well educated but meaningful jobs that can support a family for the less well educated. They can’t all be politicians.
      We don’t listen to the science boffins’ without some less qualified hack putting in his ten cents worth.
      We need to house people. One in eight now lives under the poverty line. Do we care?
      If this country is to right its wrongs, it needs a good shake up. Abbot is not the man for that or Gillard. We need people of vision, and I don’t see many of those.
      As one who is on disability, and under the poverty line. I do not care for this country anymore.
      I’m old and will be dead soon enough, but you younger people need to take an interest in what goes on around you and not just the Kardashian’s.Agitate get busy, and kick arse. Good luck.

    • Richard de la Haye says:

      11:33am | 18/10/12

      Australia ... “where even modest dreams of an education and a job are out of reach”. Well I have just returned from a 15,000 km drive around mainly outback Australia and there wasn’t one town without a Primary School or free access to a High School. Windows were full of jobs in Kalgoorlie for instance and not highly skilled .... drill offsiders for example. The trouble with these welfare agencies is they expect the poor to be housed like the not so poor. The poor also have high expectations of housing way beyond their means. On our trip we stayed mainly in on site cabins in Caravan Parks, terrific livable spaces. May be Governments could build this type of accommodation for the poor in vast well policed and managed parks on the outskirts of cities with free bus transport to nearest railway station twice a day to enable search for work and education. Welfare agencies could also set up shop. But NO ... too easy. It maligns the poor into ghettos. In the meantime sleep under a bridge or go to crisis centres.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      02:10pm | 18/10/12

      Richard de la Haye - I’ve workd in Outback QLD for a number of years. There are plenty of towns without schools, and plenty of itinerant workers whose children don’t have access to traditional schooling.

      And the schools in some of those towns you drove through often have enrolments of 5 or 6 kids, and run a heavily modified program because there is no way to cater for the diversity of ages otherwise. I also know plenty of towns where the nearest high school is over 2 hours away.

    • Jenny says:

      12:36pm | 18/10/12

      The reality is that too many Australians live in poverty. It is easy to say that people shoudl make their own way, but this is easy to say from a place of opportunity. Opportunities that most people living in disadvantage just don’t have. Their aspirations are drummed out of them every day. Too many comments on this piece are driven by self-interest. Instead of dismissing the genuine plight of many Australians, we shoudl work to look at solutions to this issue as outlined by the author.

    • Nes says:

      12:51pm | 18/10/12

      Some of the comments here are a disgrace. We don’t think that living on $35/day is shameful in a country like Australia? Just because the measure is at 50% of teh media income doesnt mean all the people living in poverty are actually anywhere near this measure. There is a real problem, and one that we shouldn’t ignore. Middle class welfare and tax systems that push people deeper into poverty, are the sorts of matters we should be outraged about. Not welfare that helps people put food on their table and clothes on their back. As for you @Sloan, I know you make your inane comments to outrage, but you should take a look in the mirror - a hard one!

    • PJ says:

      03:04pm | 18/10/12

      Bare in mind some of the comments here are not from Australians. For example, some regular contributors are American, Canadian and English.

    • gary moore says:

      12:55pm | 18/10/12

      Income levels are just one measure of poverty. No one can deny the actaul evidence of increasing numbers of families and individauls seeking assistance from homelessness services, or food and emergency relief payments fro our front line welfare agencies or vocuhers for ebneregy bill payments from other community agencies

      Poor health outcomes including oral health, cardiovascular disaease and diabetes are inextricably linked with the social exclusion that poverty brings

      Dont deny the problems exist - do something constructive about it

    • Lukas says:

      01:05pm | 18/10/12

      Rather than talk about the poverty line (50% of medium household income) we could make it real and try to live off it or deal with the pressure of supporting our own famiies off it. I’ve met families in this category reach breaking point - pushing some parents into depression, resulting in relationship break up and flow on impact on kids health, nutrition and schooling. Guess where the cycle continues? And it affects us all so lets not turn a blind eye!

    • Karoline says:

      01:14pm | 18/10/12

      We should all be outraged by this issue and the level of poverty that exists in a first world country like Australia. I saw the ‘Growing up poor’ feature on Four Corners about the way people live in Claymore and rather than finding flaws with the measurement of statistics (because to me it’s not acceptable that anyone at all should have to live in poverty), we should instead be focusing on what we can do about it.

    • stevem says:

      01:51pm | 18/10/12

      The problem is that you can’t fix a problem until you adequately identify what it is you’re trying to fix. Throwing money at a problem is a politically expedient solution, but rarely fixes more than a small portion of the problem. Life is more complex than that.

    • Karoline says:

      02:42pm | 18/10/12

      @stevem The problem is poverty and can be identified as inadequate access to basic rights like food, shelter and education. Defining the number of people it affects is not the key issue as any level is unacceptable.

      No one is suggesting we just throw money at the problem, or that it is simple, but we should be working on structural changes that will create lasting change.

    • Julian says:

      01:20pm | 18/10/12

      Sloan you should be ashamed of yourself. They say anyone can be two pay packets from poverty and homelessness in the wrong set of circumstances. We should all remember that people who deal with the realities everyday are someones mother or father, brother or sister, daughter, or son. They are PEOPLE and should be treated as such.. Well done to organisations like Vinnies for the help they give to our nations most vulnerable..

    • Jen says:

      02:44pm | 18/10/12

      Well said - living in our comfort zone, we often forget about the face of poverty - real people not just statistics. I would like to see some of the people commenting here dig their way out of disadvantage and poverty when opportunities don’t exist, school completion rates are way below the national averages, as are employment rates. Let’s not forget for those simplistic comments about getting a job and paying taxes etc, many of thepeople experiencing poverty are actually in employment, often under-employed - an issue that is becoming more prevelant. We need to change structures in education, traininand tax reform. It’s not about throwing money at a problem but it is about thinking where money is best spent.

    • Debbie says:

      01:30pm | 18/10/12

      Poverty would be less of an issue if people were compassionate towards those experiencing disadvantage instead of criticising people for decisions and blaming them for their situation.

      Poverty is a result of neglecting people who are genuinely suffering, poverty encompasses more and more people each year and as Australian’s sometimes whilst we are being” happy and go lucky” we fail to see that it exists.

      It cannot be left to charity alone to solve to problem of poverty, policy must address the issue of the poverty line and governments blaming each other for the issue does nothing for the situation. Similarly, reducing the Newstart payments for those people already struggling is a cruel way of keeping people in poverty, not helping people to escape it.

      Compassion is key and judgement should play no part either.

      Programs like ACA and Today Tonight should similarly be banned from covering the issue of poverty and leave it to reputable programs like Four Corners to accurately cover the issue and those people that poverty affects.

    • Bitten says:

      03:40pm | 18/10/12

      Hmmmm…my concern Debbie is that your proposed approach disempowers people and divorces them from responsibility for their lives, effectively turning them into mere flotsam buffeted by the waves of a merciless and cruel sea of life. Do you truly think that individual’s have no influence over their life outcomes? That choices have no consequences and we are powerless as infants blundering our way through the world? The word ‘blame’ has garnered very negative connotations in this age of moral relativism, but if we dial down the hysteria for a moment, blaming someone for a situation is effectively drawing a link between an action and a consequence.

      Very few things in our lives happen ‘to’ us. Terminal illness. Losing a child. Being physically disabled after an accident. There are things that are true acts of fortune. But many of the factors that underpin marginalisation in Australian society (uncomfortable though this may make people) are not things that come out of nowhere. Alcohol abuse. Drug use. Gambling. Inability to hold down a job. It is obstinate and borderline intellectually dishonest, to insist that all unemployed people have either lost their jobs or been unable to hold down a job for more than a few weeks because they’re amazing workers. That is crap and we all know it. But ‘Think of the children!’ I hear you cry! A child cannot choose what household it is born into, that is undeniably true. But children grow into adults and we can absolutely choose to either be like our parents, or be different. I choose to be different to my father. I choose not to become an alcoholic. I choose not to beat my partner. I choose to work and I choose not to blame ‘others’ (the government, rich people, the old boss, my teachers) for what has happened in my life.

      I am responsible for much of what has happened in my life, because I have made choices. If you consider my life and how it has turned out, I have made very good choices and consequently, the good things in my life (steady income, home, loving relationship, great friends) are a result of those choices. If I am responsible for those things, that are very good and I acknowledge them as such, then surely it is equally empowering to link the actions of an individual to the negative consequences that flow from it.

      A critical element in esteem building (something that I believe is quite important in addressing disenfranchised individuals, and acknowledged as such) is to remind people that they have the power to be different and to change. This means linking their actions to consequences, both in the past and moving forward.

    • Michael says:

      01:41pm | 18/10/12

      I’m absolutely stunned at the amount of money our LABOR government is spending on the NBN when we have so many people unable to survive in our society… Has anone worked our how much the NBN is costing per (potential) connection? Surely, we should be more worried about the basics and about simple huimanity before we worry about faster porn and pirate movie downloads?

    • Michael says:

      01:41pm | 18/10/12

      I’m absolutely stunned at the amount of money our LABOR government is spending on the NBN when we have so many people unable to survive in our society… Has anone worked our how much the NBN is costing per (potential) connection? Surely, we should be more worried about the basics and about simple huimanity before we worry about faster porn and pirate movie downloads?

    • Michael says:

      01:41pm | 18/10/12

      I’m absolutely stunned at the amount of money our LABOR government is spending on the NBN when we have so many people unable to survive in our society… Has anone worked our how much the NBN is costing per (potential) connection? Surely, we should be more worried about the basics and about simple huimanity before we worry about faster porn and pirate movie downloads?

    • Michael says:

      01:41pm | 18/10/12

      I’m absolutely stunned at the amount of money our LABOR government is spending on the NBN when we have so many people unable to survive in our society… Has anone worked our how much the NBN is costing per (potential) connection? Surely, we should be more worried about the basics and about simple huimanity before we worry about faster porn and pirate movie downloads?

    • Michael says:

      01:41pm | 18/10/12

      I’m absolutely stunned at the amount of money our LABOR government is spending on the NBN when we have so many people unable to survive in our society… Has anone worked our how much the NBN is costing per (potential) connection? Surely, we should be more worried about the basics and about simple huimanity before we worry about faster porn and pirate movie downloads?

    • fml says:

      02:25pm | 18/10/12

      I love pirate movies. I did like the pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but it still didn’t really portray much of a sense of how it really was back then. I want a realistic pirate film to be produced. I would definitely support the NBA if they were to produce one.

    • adsor_mcgoo says:

      06:33pm | 18/10/12

      I think we need to be more worried about your spelling.

    • how it can be.... says:

      02:49pm | 18/10/12

      Having worked in professional roles my entire life, in another state, married for 17 years in a nearly paid off home, circumstances changed, my life changed, my marriage broke up, I bought my ex husband out and was managing just….on my own, knowing I needed to finish renovations to rent it out and move to something more affordable for one person.  Long term, I knew I could not afford a big mortgage on my own. But I was working full time too and had ALL of my working life. Then first mortage payment down and bam..GFC, my job went in one of the big 4 acounting firms, hearing the words- ” you are redundant”. Yes I got a pay out, but after fortnightly mortgage payments, fininshing off house to rent within a couple of months I was at the end of my pay out with future mortgage payments owing. I was frugal, I was also depressed (who would not be) I had lost my husband, my job and potentially my home, I was not eligible for any govenment payments - even though I had ALWAYS paid taxes. I ended up couch surfing, renting my home out eventually. With thanks to some good friends and family, an infrastructure I recognise I was fortunate to have. Lots of people don’t!! So before you knockers sit there on your high horse saying to get an education and get off your butt and get a job, I tried to get a job, I had an excellent CV, excellent references and it took months and months till I got full re-employment .Circumstances can change, dramatically and outside of your control, it can take a relationship break up, redundancy, illness. And one of the first feelings you have is disbelief, anger, shame and embarrasment that this has happened to you!
      You become very invisible very quickly when you are no longer being an active part of main stream society. So before you judge, think about when you hear another announcement of a company closing down and I am only speaking from how I found myself in poverty not all the other variables that people find themselves forced into it or even born into it! I am a lucky one, I have come out the other side fortunmately but poverty is still there it is always there, just another circumstance away and I will never forget and I hope it never happens to me again and I wish it were not there for those who still live it.
      So to the knockers, it can happen to anyone, it can happen to you!

 

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