On this week’s Policy Forum Pod, we look at tackling poverty in Australia: how we should measure it, what’s causing it, why there seems precious little political will to address it, and what policies we could put in place that would make an immediate difference.

Compared to its OECD peers, Australia has an above-average poverty rate and couples this with rising rates of homelessness, an increasingly casualised workforce, and dole rates so low that a chorus of voices from across the political spectrum is calling for an increase in the Newstart payment. But has the country really got the measure of poverty rates and their impacts? What’s life really like on the breadline? And what policies do we need to ensure a social welfare system that protects the most vulnerable in society? This week on Policy Forum Pod a brilliant panel – Nicole Wiggins, Dr John Falzon, and Professor Matthew Gray – tackle these questions and more.

Pod presenters Professor Sharon Bessell and Martyn Pearce also discuss Anti-Poverty Week, Australia’s Women of Influence, whether writing to MPs is an effective way of changing policy, and last week’s Great Green Debate live event.

Matthew Gray is Director of the Centre for Social Research and Methods at The Australian National University. He was previously Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Director of Research for the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, and Deputy Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

John Falzon OAM is Senior Fellow, Inequality and Social Justice at Per Capita. He is also a sociologist, poet, and social justice advocate, and was national CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society from 2006 to 2018. John’s current work focuses on social security reform, housing and homelessness, workers’ rights, and rebuilding the concept of the common good across society.

Nicole Wiggins is Director of the Early Morning Centre. The Early Morning Centre is a community hub supporting Canberra people who are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness and those experiencing social isolation.

Sharon Bessell is a Professor at Crawford School of Public Policy, where she is co-leader of the ANU Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM) team. The IDM is a new, gender-sensitive and multidimensional measure of poverty.

Martyn Pearce is a presenter for Policy Forum Pod and the Editor of Policy Forum.

Show notes | The following were referred to in this episode:

MyCause page for supporting Canberra community charities

Podcast: Great Green Debate

The Early Morning Centre

Poverty in Australia 2018 (ACOSS and UNSW)

Australia’s unemployment benefit lowest amongst OECD countries

Senate Inquiry into the Adequacy of Newstart

Senate Inquiry into the Adequacy of Newstart in 2012

Harmer Review (Pension Review Report)

Podcast: Julian Burnside – Changing attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers

The Little Red Podcast (podcast)

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