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Poverty and exclusion in Australia
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This landmark study provides the first comprehensive assessment of the nature and associations between the three main forms of social disadvantage in Australia: poverty, deprivation and social exclusion.

Drawing on the author’s extensive research expertise and his links with welfare practitioners, it explains the limitations of existing approaches and presents new findings that build on the insights of disadvantaged Australians and views about the essentials of life, providing the basis for a new deprivation-based poverty measure.

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Poverty in Hong Kong is high and rising. This has given rise to community concern and put the government under pressure. It responded by establishing a Commission on Poverty in 2012, which announced in 2013 that it had reached agreement on an official poverty line for Hong Kong — a decision that has since been endorsed by the government. This paper describes how the poverty line is constructed and summarises the key findings in a new report on poverty in Hong Kong. It highlights existing policy failings and examines the implications for policy reform and research.

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English

This article draws on the policy experience of a range of countries to argue that different approaches to pension reform reflect national values and culture that become embedded in pension arrangements and take on their own momentum. This is illustrated with examples drawn from Australia and China on the role of means testing and the balance between formal and informal means of support in old age. Pension reform must address demographic change and be financially sound, but must also be politically sustainable. Challenges exist, but to portray these as a ‘crisis’ does little to aid the search for sensible responses.

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This chapter draws attention to Australia’s very rich tradition of family budget research, which was associated with the Social Policy Research Centre. It explains that the idea of a basic living standard enshrined in wage laws became a reality in Australia at the start of the 20th century. It also charts the history of budget standards research in Australia, focusing on the four major studies that were coordinated during the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. The chapter looks at the latest work that relates to the budget for healthy living and combines public health knowledge and focus group deliberations. It concludes that budget standards only provide a rough-and-ready adequacy benchmark, which should be used with care and in conjunction with other measurement approaches to living standards whenever possible.

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This chapter examines the circumstances of households that contain disabled members in the context of proposed reforms to the main income support programme for disabled people, the Disability Support Pension. After briefly reviewing the Australian policy context, it compares the economic circumstances of those who have a disability or long-term health condition with those who do not. It then reviews community attitudes to mutual obligation for unemployed people and disabled people (a major theme in the welfare reform debate). The final section summarises the main conclusions of the chapter.

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This chapter presents conventional poverty estimates for Australia to show its magnitude and how its incidence varies across socioeconomic groups. It compares Estimates of Australian poverty with estimates for other OECD countries, as a way of highlighting what is different about Australia and, in a rudimentary way, to reflect on how these differences relate to different welfare state regimes and policy approaches. It notes that a key component of any poverty study is a poverty line, which provides a benchmark that is used to identify who is poor according to whether income is below or above the line. It mentions one of Australia’s oldest welfare agencies, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, established during the Great Depression with the goal of ending social injustice by fighting for an Australia free of poverty. It notes that the agency conducts and sponsors research on poverty and disadvantage with a view to developing new measures that can inform and assist in these tasks.

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This chapter provides an overview of three of the main forms of social disadvantage — poverty, deprivation, and exclusion. It discusses what these terms mean, how we think about them, how we measure them, how they related to each other, and what needs to be done about them. It draws on international (mainly European) ideas and policy debates and although the evidence presented is Australian, the arguments, findings, and their interpretation apply more generally. It explores the similarities and differences between poverty, deprivation, and exclusion and identifies the factors that connect them together in circumstances, in order to understand the nature of social disadvantage in modern societies like Australia.

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This chapter compares alternative approaches to the measurement of deprivation and examines how they differ and the merits of each. It explains that the estimates of the overall incidence and structure of deprivation are presented and examined statistically to see if it is possible to identify a small number of items (‘basic deprivation’) that can capture the essence of the problem. It examines the use of alternative weighting schemes to assess the sensitivity of the estimates to the methods used to derive them. It uses the estimates to examine and compare the adequacy of the Australian age pension and other income support payments as a way of highlighting the valuable role that deprivation research can play in informing policy in the vexed and challenging area of income support adequacy.

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This chapter examines the concept of social exclusion, and explains how it relates to other major policy themes, including poverty and inequality. It discusses what is unique about social exclusion, along with its salience for current and emerging policy priorities. It identifies the different dimensions (or domains) of exclusion and examines the role of social exclusion/inclusion in informing social policy. It focuses the discussion on the emergence and evolution of the social inclusion policy agenda in Australia.

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