Report gives insights into child poverty in Western Australia
A recent report from Anglicare WA and early childhood and parent support service Ngala has outlined some troubling statistics about child poverty in Western Australia, while also attracting comment from service users about the enormous value of support structures such as child and parent centres in buffering children and families from its impact.
The Reducing Poverty and Improving Child Development in WA report found that approximately 11.4 per cent of WA children under five years of age live in severe poverty, compared to 6.7 per cent nationally.
Translated into population figures, more than 94,000 WA children are living in poverty, with a high rate of children under five years of age living in severe poverty, meaning their family earns less than half of the median household income.
The head of Ngala, Fiona Beermier, outlined the role of the first 2,000 days of a child’s life as being the most crucial.
During that time, if children grow up in homes with low income, or with parents who have limited education, they often are not ready for school by the time they reach the classroom. That trajectory, Ms Beemier said, never completely corrects itself.
“It might start to recover some of it, with intensive work, but it demonstrates why it’s so important that early intervention, right back at the beginning, must be made available to all families,” she told the ABC.
“We will see generational developmental vulnerability if we don’t break this cycle.”
Solutions for change
One of the solutions put forward by the report was providing a range of free services to try and help people break out of poverty. In areas where there is noted disadvantage, interventions which lift parenting skills and confidence can affect genuine change.
Providing families with more income support was another recommendation put forward by the report, which noted the significant benefits that resulted from a $550 per fortnight coronavirus supplement that was given to people on some government payments at the beginning of the pandemic.
Those who received the payment shared that they were able to purchase healthier food, pay off debts, and enrol their children in extracurricular activities.