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In Australia, there are more than 3 million people currently facing poverty and hardship. Anti-Poverty Week is about spreading a greater awareness of the causes and consequences of poverty and to encourage discussion, research and action by communities and individuals to help reduce the number of people below the poverty line.

Vinnies believes that empowering people is the answer to combating poverty. In WA about 300,000 people are currently living in poverty and a further 150,000 are at risk of falling into financial hardship should they face an unforeseen crisis.

“Every year thousands of these Western Australians turn to Vinnies Emergency Assistance service as they struggle through tough times,” Executive Manager, Member & Volunteer services, Andrew York said.  Whether it is through emotional support, financial advice, help with food, clothing and furniture or through advocacy, the St Vincent de Paul Society volunteers support clients every step of the way,” said Andrew York.

In 2017-18, Vinnies provided emergency relief services to over 40,000 people, in 2018-19 over 54,000 people and in 2019-20 it is estimated we will provide emergency relief services to over an estimated 65,000 people.

During Anti-Poverty Week, Vinnies WA aims to highlight how the need to increase the base rates of Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments is vital to reduce poverty and inequality, and to enable people who receive income support to live with dignity.

The base rate of Newstart has not increased in real terms since 1994 – a quarter of a century. A single unemployed person on Newstart receives as little as $277.85 a week, or just $39.70 a day.  “This is not enough to meet day-to-day living costs, such as rent, food, transport, healthcare and utilities,” Executive Manager, Member & Volunteer Services, Andrew York said.  “The inadequacy of Newstart is pushing many recipients into poverty and contributing to financial stress, housing insecurity, and diminished health and wellbeing.”

“It’s clear to me that the consequences of poverty and inequality are relentless, unforgiving and clearly have an intergenerational impact,” Regional Council President Keegan Klassen said. “Throughout these experiences, I’ve learned that supporting people experiencing poverty means assisting with immediate necessities as well as empowering people with the tools to manage their long terms needs and take control of their own difficult circumstances, with dignity.”

Vinnie’s national is a major sponsor of anti-poverty week. https://antipovertyweek.org.au/

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