This ACOSS briefing paper calls on the Australian government to refocus on reducing child poverty in Australia. The most recent ACOSS Poverty in Australia report (2016) found that of the three million people living in poverty in Australia, 731,000 were children, representing 17 per cent of children under the age of 15. This number has increased by 2 percent over the past decade. The paper offers recommendations to the Federal government, such as increasing the Newstart Allowance and improving supports for single parent households.
Families experiencing homelessness come up against significant barriers in accessing quality early childhood education and care for their children. This US based research aims to give homeless parents a voice in illuminating their individual experiences, and to be part of the solution. Parents commonly identified issues related to access to financial subsidies, transportation and the absence of active outreach services.
Child poverty and mental health: A literature review
This literature review explores the relationship between child poverty in New Zealand and the impact that poverty can have on the mental health of a child or young person, or later as an adult. It provides an overview of the extent and nature of child mental health and poverty in New Zealand, and the links between the two. The literature review shows that mental health conditions among children and adolescents can be reduced by addressing severe and persistent poverty, particularly during the early years of a child’s life.
WEstjustice has launched their 'Couch Surfing Limbo' report which explores the challenges faced by young couch surfers. Common challenges experienced by this group include exploitation, abuse, and the complexities of navigating a predominantly adult homelessness service system. The report also provides insight into the issues faced by couch providers – the informal carers that look after young couch surfers in their homes.
Do childhood experiences of parental separation lead to homelessness?
This Melbourne Institute paper examines the relationship between parental separation and homelessness using Journey’s Home (JH), a dataset of disadvantaged Australians. The study finds a substantial causal effect between parental separation and entry into homelessness, particularly if the separation occurred before the respondent was 12 years old. The findings suggest that adolescent girls are more robust to parental separations than adolescent boys and that the effects of parental separations are larger when the parents were formally married.
Economic volatility in childhood and subsequent adolescent mental health problems: a longitudinal population-based study of adolescents
The aim of this paper was to explore the relationship between exposure to low family income during childhood, and symptoms of mental health problems in adolescence. By using a range of outcome measures, the researchers determined that exposure to poverty in childhood was found to be associated with most mental health problems in adolescence, suggesting the need for targeted early interventions to support families to overcome poverty.
Effects of poverty on interacting biological systems underlying child development
The experience of poverty in early childhood can have far-reaching impacts on children’s health and development. Children experiencing poverty are often exposed to multiple risk factors, which interact to shape their neurocognitive development. This paper explores the complex interaction of risk factors such as malnutrition and psychological stress, and the ways in which they can effect neural development and functioning.
Inquiry into funding and delivery of programs to reduce homelessness
This Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute report investigates the funding and delivery of programs to reduce homelessness in Australia. It finds that the current level of investment is not enough to meet demand. There is evidence of funding diversification in Australia. The paper asserts that alternative models of funding such as social impact investment and social enterprise revenue are likely to influence the funding of homelessness services in the foreseeable future.
Inter-parental relationships, conflict and the impacts of poverty
The Early Intervention Foundation has published research exploring the role of parental relationships in families experiencing poverty. The study looks at 13 interventions across the UK aimed at addressing inter-parental conflict to improve child outcomes. It highlights the greater psychological stress that can be experienced by families under economic stress or in poverty, and how this can affect long term outcomes for children. The report argues that embedding relationship support in mainstream services, such as children’s centres or within early intervention systems, has the potential to improve access for families who could benefit most from these interventions.
The Swedish Institute for Social Research has published a paper on the variation in living standards of the poorest fifth of children in rich nations. It examines the ‘income packages’ of disadvantaged families with children in those countries and shows the relative impact of different policy interventions on the living standards of disadvantaged children.
Low income and poverty dynamics: Implications for child outcomes
This report uses data from the first five waves of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) to examine the association between childhood poverty and a range of children’s developmental outcomes. It indicates a strong negative association between poverty and children’s developmental outcomes. Improved understanding of the mechanisms of this relationship will help determine the most effective way to improve the life chances of children who experience financial disadvantage.
Reporting the Health and Development of Children in Rural and Remote Australia
This review by the Centre for Community Child Health contributes to the knowledge base of the profile of children residing in rural and remote Australia, with particular attention to developmental outcomes and social determinants of health. It found that children in remote and regional areas are more likely to experience poverty, live in unemployed households in single parent families with low educational engagement, who are also more likely to be socially isolated and Indigenous. This review will inform a more systematic approach to improving access to health services and health outcomes for children living in rural and remote Australia.
An Australian study undertaken by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) has found that it is more cost effective to provide last resort housing to homeless people than allowing them to sleep rough. This is largely through reduced healthcare costs, reduced crime, and assisting people to get back into employment and education. The research includes a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis which finds that for every $1 invested in last resort beds, $2.70 worth of benefits are generated for the community over 20 years. The paper calls for Australian governments to build more new and permanent last resort housing to assist people experiencing homelessness.
The first year of Covid-19: Initial outcomes of our collective care for low-income children in Aotearoa New Zealand
Child Poverty Action Group has released this report reviewing available data sources to determine the impacts of the pandemic and government action/inaction on low-income children in New Zealand. A key finding is that tamariki Māori were 2.5 to 3 times more likely than Pākehā (white) children to have been pushed into poverty in the year prior to March 2021. The report concludes that structural investments by government are needed to ensure the long-term wellbeing of children and their families and must centre Māori guidance.
Mission Australia’s Youth Mental Health and Homelessness Report presents findings from the Mission Australia Youth Survey. It shows that poor family functioning and serious mental illness are factors that significantly impact the risk of homelessness for young Australians aged 15-19 years. Findings include those with a probable serious mental illness are 3.5 times more likely to have spent time away from home than those without a probable serious mental illness.