Last week was Anti-Poverty Week. I’m not sure yet of the numbers of people and organisations who supported the week by attending events or by putting on their own activities to raise awareness about poverty.
In Australia, the figures about poverty are stark: 105,000 people are currently homeless; 2.2 million Australians live in poverty; 10.9% of children live in poverty and 1 in 4 pensioners live in or close to the poverty line. These are unacceptable statistics while Australia is considered a developed country with significant resources that should and could be put to the benefit of its citizens.
Today the Federal Government was talking about its Commission of Audit, which has been set up with Tony Shepherd from the Australian Business Council chairing the group. The Commission will be looking at how the Australian tax dollars are spent, the implication being that once the review is completed there will likely be cuts to services. I find it interesting that we never have Audits on how well services are doing, we always have audits to look at ways to cut rather than reward; and it is our most vulnerable who will struggle with any changes and who do struggle as we can see with the statistics on poverty. When the economic rationalist philosophy underpins service decision-making and drives the changes, people suffer badly and as a country we are judged by the way we treat our most disadvantaged citizens.
Rev’d Dr Lucy Morris, CEO