Published: October 3, 2018

Australia is sometimes referred to as ‘the lucky country’ but it is also home to ‘the unlucky few’ caught in a cycle of poverty and deep and persistent disadvantage.

Anti-Poverty Week is an important opportunity to raise awareness of those experiencing poverty, not only in poorer countries throughout the world but also in wealthier countries such as Australia.

The Life Course Centre is proud to be a Key National Sponsor of Anti-Poverty Week 2018 and is involved in a number of activities and events to help keep the issue of poverty on the national agenda and encourage discussion and action to address it.

Anti-Poverty Week, which this year runs from 14-20 October, was established in Australia in 2001 to coincide with the United Nations International Day for the eradication of poverty on 17 October. It has been running annually ever since and aims to encourage as many people as possible to publicly express their concern about poverty and mobilise to find solutions to it.

“It is very sad that in 2018, despite years of sustained economic growth, there are still individuals and families in Australia without enough money to pay the rent, buy food and afford routine household bills. Our country has enjoyed an unprecedented run of sustained economic growth for almost 30 years making us the envy of the world but we seem unable to ensure that everyone shares equally in this good fortune,” said Professor Janeen Baxter, Director of the Life Course Centre.

As highlighted by the Australian Productivity Commission’s recent report ‘Rising inequality? A stocktake of the evidence’ (August 2018), the relative poverty rate in Australia has stayed around 10% despite 27 years of continued economic growth and improved living standards for broader society.

Professor Baxter said the fact that Australia had not been able to make headway in this area was both an academic and a policy “puzzle”.

“Australia has a welfare system, a safety net, and a variety of different welfare payments to support individuals in need. These payments are important. But they do not address the underlying problems,” Professor Baxter said. “Welfare is also a political issue with disagreement about how best to address disadvantage, how much blame to place on individuals and the role of government in supporting those in need.”
The focus of Anti-Poverty Week is closely aligned to the work of the Life Course Centre in investigating the drivers of deep and persistent disadvantage, and developing new knowledge and practices to benefit children and families living in disadvantage.

“Anti-Poverty Week plays a vital role in keeping poverty on the agenda. It is also a chance to take a step back and look at the big picture of how can we do better and how can we disrupt poverty and disadvantage?” Professor Baxter said.

“Our research in areas such as labour force participation, child care and parental support, education and the impact of welfare shows that the playing field is not level for all families and children. Unequal opportunities play a critical role and greater policy effort must be devoted to leveling the playing field for children in particularly vulnerable families.”

The research of the Life Course Centre is focused not only on describing and understanding the key causes of disadvantage but also helping to prevent disadvantage from being passed down from one generation to the next through helping to design and evaluate innovative public policy and social interventions.

One such policy that Life Course Centre researchers are currently involved in evaluating is the Australian Government’s Try, Test and Learn (TTL) Fund, which is trialling new ways to assist those at risk of long-term welfare reliance to move into stable employment.

“The TTL is a new way of approaching program and policy design, and represents an ongoing commitment to co designing, developing, improving and learning from innovative ideas about how to address issues of disadvantage and welfare dependency,” Professor Baxter said. “It represents a step in a new direction in trying something different to disrupt the system and actually get people out of the cycle of disadvantage.”

You can find out more about Anti-Poverty Week here:

Anti-Poverty Week 2018: Life Course Centre Events:

Learn more about some of the key events the Life Course Centre is involved in around Anti-Poverty Week 2018.

9 October 2018: Education: the Panacea to Poverty? – Seminar, The University of Queensland. 

11-12 October 2018: Life Course Centre will host the Equity and Fairness session at the Outlook Conference, Grand Hyatt Melbourne. 

18 October 2018: Systematic Review Workshop, Systematic reviews of social interventions are a critical tool for evidence-based practice, The University of Queensland.

22-24 October 2018: Global Evidence and Implementation Summit (GEIS) 2018 – Life Course Centre researchers will attend the Summit at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

For more information, visit our Events Page.