COINCIDING with National Anti-Poverty Week the Shoalhaven Anti-Poverty Committee released its third report on Perspectives on Poverty in the Shoalhaven 2014-17 in Nowra on Monday.
The report covers employment, housing, health, education, crime and income and compares the community in 2008 against the most current data available.
Shoalhaven Anti-Poverty Committee facilitator Judith Reardon said the Shoalhaven was the seventh highest ranking city in Australia experiencing hardship.
The official national unemployment rate on August 21, 2013 was 5.7 per cent compared with 9.7 per cent in the Illawarra/Shoalhaven (excluding Wollongong). This compared with a 2008 unemployment figure for the area of 7.7 per cent, a 2 per cent increase or approximately 752 people in the Shoalhaven.
In 2013 the University of NSW found 2.26 million Australians were living below the poverty line, affecting one in eight Australian families and one in six children.
Since the committee’s last report in 2010, the Shoalhaven had higher levels of unemployment when compared to the national average, lower than average levels of income, increasing housing prices for both rental and owner occupied dwellings, significant levels of disability or health-related conditions usually related to poverty such as diabetes, high levels of alcohol, drug and gambling abuse and associated health and financial risks, significant levels of reported domestic violence and large numbers of early school leavers.
The report shows in 2003 10 indigenous students graduated in the area, increasing to 50 by 2012 and the crime rate in the Shoalhaven has significantly decreased since 2008.
The report includes local data and stories that explore the hardships experienced by some members of the Shoalhaven community and works on delivering action plans covering the next three years to reduce poverty in the area.
The four projects outlined in the report include: a community market to raise funds for anti-poverty campaigns, a stability project aiming to connect the community, an equality project to close the gap and a yard assist project s– a volunteer-based community garden clean-up system for disadvantaged families.
Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash, who officially launched the report, thanked everyone involved in the project for their continuous efforts to raise awareness of poverty in the region.
“The way to address poverty is to find employment,” said Cr Gash.