OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - One out of every 10 Australians living below the poverty line: a challenge met by all Catholic organizations

Friday, 22 October 2010

Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - More than one billion of the world's population live in desperate circumstances struggling to feed themselves and their families. But poverty and hardship are also part of Australia and today, despite the nation's wealth, the rising value of the dollar and the resources boom, more than one in 10 people are currently living below the poverty line. An estimated 2.2 million Australians battle poverty and extreme hardship, and according to welfare organisations, this number is growing. Five days ago, at the start of Anti-Poverty Week, the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell urged schools, parishes and the Catholic community to organise activities to raise awareness and encourage the terrible impact of poverty. Founded to coincide with the United Nations Anti Poverty Day on 17 October, Anti Poverty Week is aimed at strengthening public understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty around the world as well as in Australia, and to encourage research, discussion and action to address the problem. Supported by Catholic agencies such as CatholicCare, Caritas, Mission Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society and Jesuit Social Services as well as other welfare groups such as Anglicare, Red Cross and UnitingCare, Anti Poverty Week has held a series of activities at schools and in the public forum to raise the profile of those in need. But according to welfare organisations who work with families and individuals who are desperately battling to stay afloat, many Australians think poverty is something that occurs overseas and do not realise that it not only exists in the so-called Lucky Country, but affects almost 10% of the Australian population. The most recent figures compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show 58% of Indigenous Australians are at risk of poverty or already living below the poverty line. Others in the same category of risk include 28% of the nation's jobless, 28% of those who rent, 22% of single parents and 7% of older people, including pensioners many of whom are now struggling to make ends meet. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 22/10/2010)