'National shame': Child poverty is on the rise in Australia

Krystal Johnson and AAP

There are now 731,000 Australian children living in poverty in what has been described as a "national shame", an alarming new report revealed.

Despite more than 25 years of economic growth, there are nearly three million Australians living below the poverty line - a two per cent increase in the past decade.

Children who are in lone-parent families are three times more likely to be living in poverty than those from couple families.

Stock image - There are 731,000 children in Australia living in poverty - a 17.4% rise. Photo: Getty

The staggering statistics were revealed in a new Australian Council of Social Service report (ACOSS), which comes as the federal government attempts to release a new "investment approach" for social services.

ACOSS chief Cassandra Goldie said she is becoming increasingly frustrated with such debates, and claims the report is an urgent appeal to senators to reject further cuts to family payments.

"We frame it as if it's the fault of the individual, you're either lazy, not working hard enough, not re-training hard enough, but the basic numbers are there," she told the ABC on Sunday.

"One job available for every five people conservatively is the estimate looking for paid work."

Stock image - espite more than 25 years of economic growth there are nearly three million Australians are living below the poverty line. Photo: Getty


She said former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke reduced child poverty by a third after setting it as a core goal of his government.

"But over the last 10 years we've seen no change in the level of poverty among the Australian population as a whole, but children are really at risk," Dr Goldie said.

"It is a national shame that after 25 years of consecutive economic growth we have not done better at changing this trajectory and ensuring our most precious resource, our children, are given the best possible start in life."

She said the cuts stripping another $60 a week from single parent families and the proposal to withhold Newstart support for young people for up to four weeks will likely lead to increased poverty.

Stock image - The children who are in lone parent families are three times more likely to be living in poverty than those from couple families. Photo: Getty

"This report is a further wake-up call to the government to address the inadequacy of the lowest income support payments and bolster support to low income families through the family payments system," Dr Goldie said.

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