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Poverty is a globally-known issue and is said to be a situation, where an individual does not have proper material belongings, or not enough income for his/her own personal requirements. An individual suffers from poverty when his/her income level due to their employment is low. Poverty in Australia has been an ever-increasing problem. Although there is the presence of economic growth and development, poverty is an increasing concern in Australia. The people who suffer from poverty have to face various disadvantages like living under poor conditions, not receiving proper food, and many more (Herault, Aziptarte, and Johnson, 2018). The Australians suffering from poverty often are deprived of different opportunities as well as resources, which include healthcare, education, employment opportunities, food and recreation (ACOSS. 2011). Pearson (1999) has stated that a welfare state is a significant element for a country to provide its citizens with their needs, including the elderly, the vulnerable, and many more. The aim of this paper is to provide a detailed analysis on poverty in Australia. For this purpose, this paper will provide an analysis on the reasons for disabled people being affected by poverty, the reasons for the government not introducing equity-based measures, along with the recommendations for the government to reduce poverty, followed by the concluding paragraph.
It can be said that disability and poverty are connected to each other. Being disabled confines an individual and his/her capabilities in different ways. The cause may be due to their impairment, or their personal characteristics, the environment in which they live, along with the resources available to them. There are other factors also, such as their mental or physical deficiency can lead to a reduction in carrying out different physical opportunities. For example, a paraplegic cannot seek work as a laborer. This makes the impaired person unable to earn income and leads to his/her low-income capacity. They also become unable to send their children to school. They are unable to generate social capital as well as relations, which act as a significant element in receiving jobs through the extended families or friends. Further, they may be cases where the family may be ignored due to the presence of the disabled member, which will lead to low-income and being socially excluded (Palmer, 2011). For example, the people who were receiving the Age pension or the Disability Support Pensions, received the value of their welfare system which was a little lower than the poverty line (Carson and Kerr, 2017). In addition, even if the income of the receiver of the welfare system was a little higher than the poverty line, it was quite a small amount. Further, the Henderson Poverty Line was introduced in the 2000s with the median income measure, to calculate the income inequality. In the Australian 2011 census, it was found that individuals above the age of 15 years had 50% less income as set under the median annual income, which also included the disabled people, whereas 35% of the individuals had an income which was 60% lower than the median annual income (Carson and Kerr, 2017).
Since the disabled people are unable to get a good employment opportunity, they are unable to have access to occupational welfare such as car, medical benefits, education and many more, which the higher income people have access to. The higher-income people spend a lower portion of their income on necessities, where they receive advantages to the fiscal welfare. The disabled people, being unable to do anything sue to their inability do not have such facilities (Carson and Kerr, 2017).
Further, the equity and distribution system is an important aspect in considering the income support system among the people suffering from poverty. In Australia, the vertical equity based system was significant, where the progressive tax system relied on the income tax, where the individual’s with high income paid a higher rate than the lower income people, who received pensions and benefits at a lower rate (Carson and Kerr, 2017). The government has not introduced proper equity-based systems because these systems generate more income for a few groups and be beneficial for them, whereas it may act as a hindrance for other groups. For example, both the vertical and horizontal equity have acted as a source of income support, however, these resulted in the decreases in the redistributive system and strength of the government in the 2000s (Carson and Kerr, 2017). This redistributive system, for the lower-income families, was not helpful, as they were put under extra pressure to undertake their financial expenses. Although the government has introduced the redistributive programs which helped to reduce poverty, the fall in the access to income by the lower income groups made it challenging for them, as these programs were mainly accessible by the high-income people (Azpitarte, 2013).
There are various recommendations for the government to reduce poverty for the disabled people. The human rights-based approach should be adopted by the government through the Access and Equity Strategy, which will consider the significance of the issues of equality, participation and inclusion of every individual (AHRC. 2012). For example, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) considers the aspects of inequality, disability, assessment, as well as choice.’ This process finds different ways of providing continuous payments and care packages to the disabled people, which has been introduced by the government (Fawcett and Plath, 2014). Further, the government should introduce the adoption of various elements which focus on the problems being faced by the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people, and consider them as a part of the government approach (AHRC. 2012).
Thus, poverty can be said to be a global issue, where people from the low-income category suffer more at the hands of the high-income people. Poverty increases in a country when the government does not take proper steps to eradicate the issues being faced by its citizens. Thus, the aim of this paper was to provide an analysis on poverty in Australia, with special focus on the issues which disable people face, the reasons for the government not introducing equity-based reforms as well as recommendations for the government to introduce programs to reduce poverty. Therefore, to reduce poverty in the country, the government must introduce different welfare programs, for the good of its citizens.
ACOSS. 2011. Poverty and its causes. Poverty Report October 2011 Update.
AHRC. 2012. Access and Equity: Inquiry into the responsiveness of Australian Government services to Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse population. [pdf] Available at: <https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/legal/access-and-equity-inquiry-responsiveness-australian-government-services-australias> [Accessed on: 5 September 2020].
Azpitarte, F., 2013. Was economic growth in Australia Pro-Poor? In Inclusive growth in Australia: Social policy as economic investment. New York: Routledge
Carson, E. and Kerr, L., 2017. Australian social policy and the human services. Cambridge University Press
Fawcett, B., Plath, D. 2014 ’A National Disability Insurance Scheme: What Social Work has to offer’. British Journal of Social Work, 44, 747-762.
Herault, N., Aziptarte, F. and Johnson, G. 2018. The Australians Stuck below the poverty line. The University of Melbourne.
Palmer, M. 2011. Disability and Poverty: A conceptual review. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 21, pp. 210-218.
Pearson, N. 1999. Positive and negative welfare and Australia’s indigenous communities. Family Matters, (54) Spring / Summer 1999: 30-35.