Many Australians experience povertyat different stages in their lives dueto a variety of circumstances, such asretrenchment or loss of employment,a change in their personal situation,illness, incarceration, relocation dueto family violence, or even the deathof a family member. Poverty maybe situational for some; who canrecover and get back on their feet.For others, poverty and disadvantagehave become a way of life andpersist for many generationswithin their communities.
Entrenched poverty and disadvantageare complex and significant socialissues. The Committee for EconomicDevelopment of Australia (CEDA),estimates that between four to sixper cent (1-1.5 million individuals) ofthe Australian population experiencechronic or persistent disadvantage.66Furthermore, for 12–15% of thosewho experience disadvantage, periodsof hardship last more than 10 years.The longer someone experiencessignificant disadvantage, the morelikely they are to remain trapped inpoverty. Regrettably, children whogrow up in a home with entrencheddisadvantage are more likely to facethe same problem.
Our research indicated that the majority of respondentsexperienced severe levels of deprivation. Eighty-sixper cent of adults and 58% households with childrenexperienced severe levels of deprivation and went withoutmore than five essential items in life.71 Almost nine in10 (89%) respondents did not have $500 in savings foremergencies, two-thirds (66%) of respondents could notafford dental treatment and more than one-third (34%)were not able to afford medicine prescribed by a doctor.
Employment and connectedness were central issues,nearly three quarters (74%) of respondents did not havea computer, tablet or iPad, and more than half did nothave a motor vehicle. Deprivation of 11 or more essentialhousehold items was found to be more likely for those whoare male, unemployed, on Newstart, or homeless.72 Theseresults were very similar to previous years, whereby themajority of respondents experienced severe deprivationsand could not afford everyday basic items. For manydisadvantaged Australians, The Salvation Army providessupport and a safety net in times of need.