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The Effects of Poverty on the Country

Poverty has a huge effect on the country

No matter how rich a city or a country seems, there are people who go to bed hungry every night, if they have a bed in the first place.  Poverty is a problem in many communities across the country.  According to statistics released in 2012, almost 13 percent of Australians live in poverty.  That number includes everyone as a whole in the country, but poverty statistics are higher for the elderly on social security, children in one-parent households and those dependent on governmental assistance.

 Who are the Poor?

To be able to provide help the needy, you need to know who the needy are and how they become poor.  The faces of poverty are diverse and you may be surprised that you know people who live in poverty.  The highest percentages of people who live in poverty are those who are unemployed households or those households who have to rely on social security as their main income source.  The Indigenous people of Australia often live in poverty as well.

The elderly and children, especially those who live in single parent households, are the most susceptible to being poor.  Their incomes are limited because of their age because they are unable to work due to being retired or too young to work.  Studies on poverty usually look at incomes after housing costs have been paid.  Housing costs take a sizable chunk out of their incomes and housing costs continue to rise in cities like Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.

While officially Australia doesn’t have a poverty line to help measure the number of people living in poverty, studies, such as the one previously mentioned, often use two measures of poverty to help come up with their statistics.  The measure of poverty in the country is often a contentious issue among politicians on the left and those on the right.  They don’t agree as to how it should be measured, which can affect who is considered as living in poverty and how the government funds their social programs.

 The Consequences of Poverty

There are many issues that go hand in hand with poverty and helping the needy usually involves addressing some of those issues.  Homelessness, hunger, inadequate medical or dental care and poor hygiene can result from living in poverty.  Another result of living in poverty is dying at a younger age than those who don’t live in poverty.  This is especially true for indigenous people in Australia.  On average, they die about 20 years younger than their non-native counterparts do.

Some of the reasons Indigenous people are more likely to die at a younger age is because their quality of life is affected by preventable diseases, chronic illness and mental or physical disabilities.  The mortality rate for indigenous children, from infants to four years old, is four times that of the non-indigenous population.

Being poor not only can affect a child’s health because of poor nutrition and inadequate medical or dental care, but it also affects their education.  Poor kids often fall behind their more fortunate counterparts in school because they don’t have access to the same learning opportunities or tools.  Poor nutrition can also affect how well children learn as it can cause an inability to concentrate and fatigue, which makes it hard to pay attention and understand what they are being taught.

 Ways to Help Needy People

There are many ways concerned people can help the poor or get help for the homeless.  Volunteering at homeless shelters , collecting clothing and food for the underprivileged  and writing, emailing or contacting politicians takes little effort, but it can have a huge impact.  Many organizations that help the needy can often use volunteers to help them as well.

Churches, community organizations and schools can use volunteers to help get tasks done in their offices or help organize items that they give out to the needy.  Counsellors can volunteer to give advice to those in need, such as advice on how to cope with stress, counselling for addictions or help counsel people with mental health issues.

People with a financial background may be able to help someone living in poverty break the cycle by learning how to budget their money better, pay off debts or how to find ways to save money on what they buy.  Often times poverty is caused by mismanaging money and, if they can learn to manage their money better, then they can stretch their money further and they may not face problems such as eviction.

If you don’t have time to volunteer, than financial donations to organizations that are helping homeless people or others in need would certainly be welcome.  Often times community organizations depend solely on donations to continue their work helping the needy and every donation can help them continue that work.

Not only can you donate from your own pocket, but you can also organize fundraisers, have bake sales or raise money at church by having special offerings.  For many organizations, a little bit of money can go a long way.

Volunteers are often needed at schools to mentor kids or help tutor them in subjects in which they are having difficulty.  Contact schools in your area to check for volunteer opportunities and to provide kids in need with a helping hand.  The cycle of poverty often is carried on from generation to generation and being a mentor to a child can help break that cycle.

 Bringing it to the Table

Too many people see poverty or homelessness as other people’s problems, especially if they are not personally affected by these issues.  However, one way to end poverty, and its consequences, is to make people aware of the issues surrounding poverty and discuss how it does affect their lives.

Most of us are a paycheque away from being in need ourselves, which can be a startling realization for some people.  By making others aware of how poverty, unemployment and homelessness affect their community, than the issues surrounding it can be discussed and solutions found to end these problems.

About the Author Rey Zion