by Martin J. Cowling, Acting National Director, UnitingCare Australia
I have heard it said that nothing worthwhile is easy and that complex problems require complex solutions.
If we needed a terse summary of society’s attempts to end poverty and disadvantage, these hit the mark.
“For you always have the poor with you,” Jesus said.1
Indeed, from the time when humans first made permanent settlements around twelve thousand years ago, the poor and disadvantaged have been with us.
Worldwide, the figures can be depressing, with over 900 million people living in extreme poverty.2 This is 60 times larger than the estimated human population when organised agriculture first started.
Australia, despite its wealth and natural advantages, is not immune to poverty and inequality. They have often been a driving influence in our history and continue to rise. Out of a population around 23 million, a staggering 2.55 million Australians lived below the poverty line in 2012, and one in four of that number were children.3
But things do get better when communities act together to make a difference.
This is something UnitingCare Australia epitomises in its work throughout Australia.
Innovation, leadership and partnership: strategic tools
UnitingCare recognises the importance of innovation, leadership and partnership and in dealing with the evolving nature of community service
UnitingCare is at the forefront of making a difference in the fight against poverty and disadvantage. With some 1,600 sites nationally, we are one of the country’s leading providers of community service, and outspoken on issues of social justice.
UnitingCare recognises the importance of innovation, leadership and partnership in our work, and in dealing with the evolving nature of community service.
In this first issue of In Depth, the Magazine of UnitingCare Australia, you will read about how we use these tools by working with government to shape consumer directed care. You will also read about how by working with the government and the private sector to find new paths to work for the long-term unemployed and ways to address homelessness, UnitingCare is taking the lead in developing a new kind of urban community.
Yes, the problems of poverty and disadvantage are still with us, and indeed may always be with us. They are difficult and complex problems, but decisive, concerted and collaborative action by organisations such as UnitingCare Australia make serious inroads into both, and prove that the struggle is – and always will be – eminently worthwhile.
1 (Matthew 26:11. World English Bible.) 2 World Bank definition of extreme poverty is income less than US$1.90 per person per day. See: http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/overview 3 http://www.acoss.org.au/poverty-2/. In this document, in Australia poverty is measured as the number of people living below the poverty line of 50% of media household income.