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Joint Statement With Ngala: Call for Immediate Action as WA Child Poverty Rises

Oct 18, 2021
There is a straight-forward, evidence-backed solution to ending child poverty in Western Australia, according to a new report by Anglicare WA and Ngala that will be launched on Monday for Anti-Poverty Week. 

WA has the third highest rate of child poverty in the nation, with nearly 95,000 children living in poverty. Severe child poverty has risen substantially in the last decade.

The Reducing Poverty and Improving Child Development in WA Report has highlighted the impact of poverty on children through a comprehensive review of relevant research, along with successful initiatives to address the issue and accounts of lived experience.

The Report found children who grow up in poverty face significant challenges to their social, emotional, and physical development that have life-long impacts on health and wellbeing both in childhood and into their adult years.

It identified four key actions to lift children permanently from poverty and improve their growth and development:
•  Provision of adequate income support for families
•  Universal access to early childhood education and care
•  Provision of targeted early intervention supports to meet each child’s needs
•  Prioritise the rights of children and their development, health, and wellbeing

Anglicare WA CEO Mark Glasson said there should not be children living in poverty in the wealthiest state in the wealthiest nation in the world. 

“Lack of access to quality food and adequate housing are the most consistent and direct ways that poverty affects a child’s health, wellbeing and development,” said Mr Glasson.

“Yet non-material - or psychological and emotional – impacts of poverty are equally detrimental to a child’s development, such as social isolation, inadequate education, poor health, exposure to poor parental mental health and increased conflict in the home.

“However, as this Report shows, we know what the solutions are to end child poverty; they are proven and relatively simple. It just requires political will to take action.”

Ngala CEO Fiona Beermier said being in poverty does not mean you are a bad parent, but the challenges are much greater.

“The Australian Early Development Census, which assesses children as they begin their first full year of school, has shown children living in disadvantaged areas have higher rates of developmental vulnerability,” said Ms Beermier.

“Yet, we’re already seeing in Western Australia through targeted programs such as Child and Parent Centres which are located in specific geographic areas to improve outcomes for those at risk of not achieving their potential.”

“This is only one initiative, however. If we are to ultimately end child poverty in Western Australia, which is within our grasp, we must implement all four solutions”. 

To read the full report: www.anglicarewa.org.au/childpoverty2021

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