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Addressing poverty is a community responsibility.

“Australia is a conspicuously wealthy country but sadly our priorities fail to provide the opportunities needed to break the cycle of poverty”, said Daryl Lamb, Deputy CEO Anglicare Tasmania and Co-chair of Anti-Poverty Week 2016.

Over the past three decades the level of inequality in Australia has continued to rise, with the gap between the richest and poorest wider than ever.

“More than a million Australians currently live in poverty and severe hardship. The responsibility for change rests with us all – a collective community response is necessary,” said Daryl.

Anti-Poverty Week runs from Sunday 16 October to Saturday 22 October and focuses on poverty here in Australia as well as around the world.

“Around the world more than a billion people are desperately poor”, said Lindy O’Neill, CEO of Uniting Care Tasmania and Co-chair of Anti-Poverty Week 2016.

“The key aims of Anti-Poverty Week are to raise awareness about the causes and consequences of poverty, and also to encourage research, discussion and action to address these problems”, said Lindy.

Tasmanians can participate in a variety of community events throughout the week, such as:

  • Gagebrook Community Centre Spring Food Festival is on today 10.30am to 1.30pm

  • Free BBQ at Lees Corner in New Norfolk on today from 3pm to 5pm

  • ‘Is Poverty Inevitable?’ forum discussion about the reality of poverty at the University of Tasmania on Tuesday October 18 from 6pm to 7.30pm

  • A calendar of activities is at: http://www.antipovertyweek.org.au/calendar-of-activities-2016

The three pillars which protect against poverty are: affordable and secure housing; access to education; and secure work with adequate income.

1. Affordable Housing - Almost a quarter of Tasmania’s low income households, or over 14,600 homes, are in housing stress or crisis. Tasmania needs an average of 2,392 new dwellings each year to meet supply until 2031, and 656 of these need to be low-priced homes.

2. Access to education - A good education is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of individuals as well to the whole Tasmanian community and economy. While there have been recent improvements, low educational retention rates remain a serious problem.

3. Secure work - Many Tasmanians are unable to find work or struggle to sustain regular long-term employment, so their income is either low or fluctuating. Tasmania’s unemployment rate is the second highest of all Australian states at 7%, compared with the national average of 6%.

“We need to respond collectively. Our common humanity must ensure that all people have access to these fundamental basics in life”, said Daryl.

“Tasmania has the highest proportion of people living below the poverty line, at 15%.

“Living in poverty is both lonely and incredibly stressful. People become excluded because the associated stigma impacts their daily lives. When you can’t afford transport, appropriate clothing or adequate food, people become isolated.

“Working together to improve outcomes which protect people from poverty will contribute to happier and healthier communities”, said Daryl.

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