The number of children and families living in poverty is expected to escalate amid the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, more than one in six children were living in poverty.
It’s a shocking statistic that experts fear will get much worse as the economic effects of Covid-19 impact communities.
“Too many children and families in Australia are at risk of living in poverty and suffering long-term disadvantage,” said UnitingCare Australia National Director, Ms Claerwen Little.
“Without government action, child poverty will get even worse, with children facing greater challenges as they grow up.”
This week (October 11-17) is Anti-Poverty Week, an annual event that shines a light on child poverty in Australia.
To mark the week, UnitingCare Australia hosted an event with an expert panel of speakers.
They talked about the issues facing children and families, and what support these vulnerable Australians need to ensure they have the best chance at a future full of hope.
In her address, Professor Miranda Stewart from Melbourne University Law School said there was a need to think more creatively about solutions.
“This is a systemic issue and we need to think more broadly about the solutions.
“We have to ask ourselves, what is the best mix of family, welfare and public provision to alleviate child poverty, and most importantly, what is the fairest approach?”
National Council of Single Mothers & their Children CEO Terese Edwards spoke about the incredible impact of the coronavirus supplement for families.
“A powerful transformation occurred and for the first time, families could afford the basics,” she said.
“They could afford prescribed medication, buy winter boots for the kids, or even put the heater on in the cold of winter.
“We cannot allow the old JobSeeker rate to return – condemning children to hardship, missing out, and a grim Christmas.”
Victorian Co-Chair of Anti-Poverty Week, and CEO of Uniting Vic.Tas, Bronwyn Pike, said it’s time for change.
“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to reset,” she said.
“In response to the pandemic, governments have proven that they can be nimble and bold and step up to support those who need it most.
“We must do better because so many children and families are counting on us.”
UnitingCare Australia is the national body for the Uniting Church’s community services network and an agency of the Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia.