A report released on Sunday by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) estimated that the number of Australians living in poverty has gone up to over 2.26 million by one-third of one per cent since 2003. That translates into one in eight Australians.
These are people whose household income is 50 percent or lesser of the national median average.
Due to the higher incidence of poverty, ACOSS recommended the federal government to increase Newstart payments to poor residents from the current $492.60 for every fortnight for a single unemployment person, ACOSS Chief Executive Officer Cassandra Goldie said.
"If you're a single person that means you have just over $50 a day to cover everything. Single people with two children had $80 a day to pay for everything," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Ms Goldie.
She pointed out that the Newstart rates did not increase in real terms for the past two decades to help the millions in poverty get out of their situation. She also called on Australia's wealthiest to help the federal and state governments address the problem of homelessness, which is one of the measures of poverty by paying more taxes.
Besides the billionaires, food blogger Lauren Quinn asked Australians to take the challenge of living on just $35 a week and in the process help those who live below the poverty line. She proposed that they join the $35 Challenge during the Anti-Poverty Week from Oct 14 5o 20 by blogging about their participation and donating the money saved on food to Foodbank.
Foodbank is a charity that supplies over 88,000 meals daily through welfare agencies. To help participants in the challenge, Ms Quinn who owns the food blog Corridor Kitchen said she will provide advice on how to eat well on a tight budget for as low as $5 a day.
The growth in poverty level happened despite the mining boom in Australia which appears not to have spread the wealth to the grassroot level and the country being the wealthiest nation in the world based on median wealth.
By state, New South Wales has the largest number of people in poverty at 835,000, followed by Victoria (526,700) and Queensland (430,900). On the extreme end is Tasmania with just 56,000.