17 October 2018
TasCOSS has called for a ‘whole-of-government attack’ on poverty to eliminate the underlying reasons for Tasmania’s current crises in health and housing.
“Poverty is not inevitable. The role of government is to ensure each one of us has the opportunity to live a good life.
“It is a choice our governments’ make through policy decisions and political priorities over generations,” Kym Goodes, CEO of TasCOSS said.
A nationwide report by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)  and UNSW released yesterday reveals that a quarter of Tasmanians (23.6% or 120,000 people) live in poverty, including 15.8% of our State’s children aged under 15 years of age.
“Australia is a wealthy nation and Tasmania is experiencing a relative economic ‘boom’: Now is the time for State politicians of all stripes to make decisions that will eliminate entrenched poverty,” Ms Goodes said.
“All that is needed to better the situation is the political will to make poverty a key issue across political lines.
“Many Tasmanians are aware of crises in our health and housing systems and actively pressing our State politicians to act to end them.
“We don’t need to look far beyond the headlines to find the cause of current emergencies in these areas is structural and a result of our high levels of poverty and disadvantage.
“Right now Tasmania is attempting to manage the headline crises—in health, in housing—but we are not attempting to address the structural causes of them. Choosing to eliminate poverty is a choice to eliminate these crises arising time and time again. Because eliminating poverty benefits not just those most in need, but the entire community and our State’s finances.
“Tasmanians must impel all tiers of government to make new choices, to make budget decisions that enable good policy for the benefit of us all.”
 Poverty is defined here, in line with international standards, as when a household’s disposable (after tax) income falls below a level considered inadequate to achieve an acceptable standard of living. The benchmark for the adequacy of household incomes is set by comparing them with middle or median incomes, and calculating how many people fall below a benchmark set at 50% or 60% of the median. We have used 60% of the median which is the appropriate level for wealthy countries. The benchmark is widely used in national and international poverty studies. This approach means that the poverty lines rise or fall in accordance with changes in median income (including wages and any government benefits). That is, the poverty lines aim to measure living standards relative to those enjoyed by ‘middle Australia’.