Are Australians really that selfish? 114



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This week a report released by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia gave every Australian a very alarming wake up call. They found that despite the fact Australia is considered a wealthy, safe, happy country, there’s far too many Australians living in poverty.

When we think about poverty, our mind drifts to far away places like Africa, parts of south-east Asia and South America. But the reality is that it is happening in our own back yard. And this forces us to ask us the question of ourselves, how can we be less selfish and help the problem?

According to the OECD, Australian average disposable incomes are around $40,o00 – $10,000 higher than the overall OECD average. However 4-6 per cent of the entire Australian population live in poverty – that is between one million and 1.5 million people.

A lot of people cry poor, we struggle to get through the week on our income – whatever that may be – we find the bills stack up and we struggle to pay off debt and there are many ways at defining poverty. But unless you receive less than $400 a week for a singe adult in income, you can’t truly consider yourself as living in poverty. That is the benchmark set by the Australian Council of Social Service in 2012. The sad thing is that if we were to consider this as the real benchmark for Australia, as many as 2.55 million Australians will be living in poverty.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, another way of assessing poverty is the “deprivation” approach, which considers whether people have access to necessary goods and services.

A 2010 survey found that 18 per cent of Australians did not have up to $500 in savings in case of an emergency. 13 per cent did not have enough for dental treatment if needed, while 8 per cent did not have enough for an annual trip to the dentist for their children. 10 per cent did not have home contents insurance, and 20 per cent were unable to afford a week’s holiday away from home each year.

Regardless of how we look at poverty and how we assess it, the big problem is that plain and simply it exists in our own backyards.

Solving it isn’t quite so easy though. So many people live the champagne socialist lifestyle – they enjoy their nice, embellished and slightly privileged lifestyle but they’re vocal for the less fortunate. The question is, what are they actually doing about it?

That seems to be Australia’s consistent problem. We want to help, we want to fight for those who are less fortunate than ourselves and we’ll be vocal about our ideas, thoughts and opinions. But when it comes to actually making change happen, where is the action?

This is not a place to discuss politics. We don’t want to know if you think politicians earn too much because you’ve already told us. This is a discussion about the everyday Australian. This is a discussion about you.


Are Australians, ourselves or others we know, a little selfish when it comes to actually turning words into action? What do you do, as an Australian citizen, to help our neighbours living in poverty? How have you tried to change this situation? 

It could be donating clothing to Vinnies, donating books, car pooling, volunteering at a soup kitchen or street van. Whatever it is, tell us. Let’s prove that Australians aren’t selfish and that we are actively working towards making Australia a better place for everyone through our actions. 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Ask The Smith Family about poverty.
    They work each year to lift children out of the poverty cycle by giving our young people from pre school age through to university assistance in accessing opportunities otherwise unavailable to them.

    4 REPLY
    • View Clubs only support The Smith Family.
      Our club, being an evening club with some members in the workforce, decided to ask each member for an annual donation of $50 instead of doing fundraising activities.
      It works well with our time then free for social activities and speakers, etc. as well as almost everyone being also involved in other community matters.

  2. We should be looking at our own backyard, instead of giving billions to overseas aid. Some of the countries we give aid dollars to hate us as much as they hate the Americans.

  3. Teaching people to budget is a good way to help our society.

    5 REPLY
    • Try getting a decent place to live pay bills and buy food and medications on 400 dollars per week.

    • Silly remark how can you budget with rising costs and rents that people have to pay just so those who are lucky enough to afford to have more than home getting their morgages paid of and getting all the tax breaks . You have to be earning a very good wage to be able to budget accordingly to peoples needs and circumstances .

  4. Stop sending money overseas aid . How much do we give to Indonesia and look at the size of there military compared to ours but still we think they are poor and give them money . Many of us are living in poverty but all our Government want to do is give away money overseas and cut money to the poor here . When our country has nothing more to give for free they will just take us over .

    7 REPLY
    • Foreign aid is an important part of foreign policy. If we totally disregarded any responsibility for humanity, it is incredibly important for self interested reasons such as regional stability and developing influence.

    • Foreign aid is not given to the poor it is used to help corrupt Governments how much help are the Indonesian Government giving to the people of west Papua .

    • Ever heard the old saying ‘. Take care of your own backyard first ‘ if we did that we would not have poor people in this country . Then you can start to help overseas . Some of the wealthiest people in the world are from Ethiopia , yet the people in that country are dirt poor .

    • We signed a Treaty, like many other countries, so are obliged to send foreign aid. We have it good in Australia despite all the negativity displayed on this site.

  5. Big cover up here. Govt rather send tax payers money to support governments off shore.. cos the poor dont get the aid thats for sure.

  6. It’s interesting that this is posted on this site today when some people , on the same site, are trying to justify a tax concession for people earning over $250000 or thinking that a 15% tax on superannuation earnings over $75000 is “pretty hard”.

    3 REPLY
    • I would have no problem paying higher tax if I was sure it was going strait to those living with poverty or homelessness, I wonder if set or above donation amounts instead of tax for the fortunate ones would be a better way?

    • I am not wealthy but have worked hard to try to provide for my retirement. I have no problem with there being new superannuation rules but DON’T SHIFT THE GOALPOSTS.

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