Youth Action, as a steering committee member, is pleased to see the unique experience of young people represented and addressed throughout the 1 in 7 report.
In New South Wales, 13.8% of children under the age of 15 are experiencing poverty – a rate higher than any other mainland state. Almost 1 in 7 children are living in households below the poverty line. These statewide statistics mask a situation that is even more troubling in some towns and suburbs in our state. Country towns like Brewarrina (31.8%), Kyogle (28.2%), and Tenterfield (27.9%), and suburbs like Auburn (26.1%) and Canterbury (25.6%) – among others – have child poverty rates that far exceed the statewide average. And we know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are overrepresented amongst children experiencing poverty and are particularly disadvantaged across a range of indicators.
There is no shortage of research and evidence to show the prevalence and consequences of child poverty here in New South Wales. Children and young people who experience poverty and disadvantage are more likely to have health and behavioural problems, experience housing and food insecurity, and not achieve their full potential at school.4 These childhood experiences have an impact across the entire life course, shaping their employment prospects, their health outcomes and sense of wellbeing.
There is also no shortage of evidence to point to the many causes of poverty. Unemployment and underemployment, jobs shortages, poor health, disability, dysfunction within a family, as well as the effects of racism and other forms of discrimination, can all contribute.
But whatever causes a child to experience poverty, that child is not responsible.
Whatever causes a child to experience poverty, it shouldn’t determine their life chances.
We also know that here in New South Wales, we can act to break the cycle of disadvantage and ensure that the 1 in 7 children who are experiencing poverty have the best chance in life.
Our 1 in 7 Children in Poverty Campaign outlines five key actions the NSW Government could take to make a very real difference to the life chances of children and young people experiencing poverty and disadvantage.
These actions have been informed by extensive conversations with our members and other stakeholders across NSW - specialists in working with children and young people to break the cycle of disadvantage. Before we started these conversations we also gathered some data and spoke with 400 low and middle income families about their experience of the cost of living today. And they have also been shaped by a panel of experts and leaders in social justice.
In the coming months NCOSS, together with our members, will be calling on the NSW Government to bring these actions to life. Working together, we can make a real difference and build a future in which the life outcomes of children in New South Wales aren’t determined by their socio-economic status and the poverty they experience in childhood.