A major new report launched on poverty by the Salvation Army today has revealed that two million Australians – or 1 in 10 – now live in poverty, with more than half a million children living in jobless families.

Entitled ‘Perceptions of Poverty’, the report states that 9.5 million Australians feel that taking action to reduce poverty should be a “very high priority”. The research also indicates that 11.6 million Australians agree (or strongly agree) that just about anyone can find themselves living in poverty.

The report has been released in Anti-Poverty Week (October 17-23) and includes a call from the Salvation Army for the Federal Government to instigate a

national child poverty strategy to ensure all children thrive academically and emotionally.

The Salvation Army says there is a new emerging group of people getting bigger – the working poor. They say around half of the country’s low-income households report experiencing cash flow problems, with more than a quarter of them needing to increase credit card debt and exhaust savings and borrow money from friends and family.

The report also reveals many single parent families are experiencing poverty with 57% saying they could not pay utility bills in the past 12 months and 12% saying they went without meals.

Please click here to download the report and here to read a media release about it.

The report makes a valuable contribution to our understanding about the causes and nature of poverty in Australia – and sadly highlights the fact that while the rich are getting richer, new generations of Australians are getting entrenched in the poverty cycle.

During the last election campaign very little was said on the issue of poverty and the working poor. It is important that the Government and all political parties focus far greater attention on dealing with an issue which affects so many Australians.