Creating Unequal Futures? Rethinking Poverty, Inequality and Disadvantage

Creating Unequal Futures? Rethinking Poverty, Inequality and Disadvantage

Creating Unequal Futures? Rethinking Poverty, Inequality and Disadvantage

Creating Unequal Futures? Rethinking Poverty, Inequality and Disadvantage

Synopsis

"A new way of thinking about the nature of, and solutions to, contemporary poverty, disadvantage and inequality in Australia"

Excerpt

The eminent economist and commentator, John Kenneth Galbraith, recently identified persistent inequality in the distribution of income (and urban poverty in particular) as a major piece of ‘unfinished business’ at the end of the twentieth century (Galbraith 1999). These remarks coincided with the release of the 1999 Human Development Report which drew attention to the fact that poverty remains widespread in developing countries and that ‘human poverty and exclusion are hidden among statistics of success’ in industrial countries (United Nations Development Program 1999, p. 28). In Australia, a report prepared by the Society of St Vincent de Paul (1999) opened with the claim that poverty in our community ‘remains a largely hidden, misunderstood and misrepresented issue’. And a special series of articles on globalisation published in the Age bemoaned governments' failure to include the poor in global economic expansion, seeing this as evidence of moral emptiness in their political decisions (Elliott 1999).

It is clear that, as the new millennium begins amidst a period of sustained economic growth, problems of poverty and inequality are proving uncomfortably resilient and a source of growing disquiet. The evidence of recent international comparisons is showing Australia to be particularly unequal (see Whiteford, Chapter 2). This is consistent with estimates of child poverty prepared by UNICEF showing over 17 per cent of Australian children were living below the standard international poverty line in 1994, a rate that placed Australian child poverty fifth highest among 25 industrialised countries (Bradbury and Jantti 1999a, Table 3.3).

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