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Wednesday, 03 November 2004

450 Community service providers commit to eradicating child poverty

More than 450 of Australia’s community service providers yesterday agreed to make child poverty a number one priority by committing to programs and services that will help treat the symptoms and eliminate the causes of child poverty.

The UnitingCare Network National Conference yesterday endorsed the statement, Because Children Matter – Tackling Poverty Together, committing its network of over 450 service providers to putting child poverty on the national agenda.

UnitingCare Australia National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds, said the UnitingCare network is well placed to help tackle the problem because its agencies work with vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians every day of the year.

“Today, 800,000 Australian children live in poverty and 3.6 million households live on a combined family income of less than $400 per week.

“Children living in poverty experience the multiple effects of isolation, reduced quality of life, lack of choice and fewer opportunities and greater exposure to abuse and neglect.

”The Uniting Church in Australia has over 450 community services agencies – together we provide services to over 1 million people every year. We work with vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and their families in all States and Territories across Australia.

“We deliver children’s services, child protection, out of home care, programs for homeless young people, family support and early intervention. Our credibility lies in our direct and daily contact with families, the work that we do and the outcomes we achieve.

“As a nation, we have the knowledge, the skills, and the resources to tackle the causes and impacts of child poverty. As a network, UnitingCare has the experience and knowledge to work with Government to do that,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

In its statement UnitingCare’s agencies and missions across Australia committed to providing high quality services for children and their families, to involve children and families in the development of its programs; to work collaboratively both with government and non-government agencies to develop and deliver services; and to advocate for the rights of all children.

The statement also urged Governments and decision makers to put children first by ensuring there are opportunities for all children and young people to reach their full potential.

“Governments have an important role to play in tackling child poverty. Our network wants to see a long term approach to funding programs for children and families at risk and is seeking strategies that address long-term unemployment and low income and material disadvantage and offer equitable access to educational opportunity and safe and secure housing.

“Working together with government and communities, locally, regionally and nationally, we can eliminate child poverty in Australia. Our network is committed to ending child poverty and we call on governments across Australia to work with us to eliminate it once and for all.”

Media Contacts: Gavin Melvin, Senior Communication Officer, Uniting Church, 0417 416 674
Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director, UnitingCare Australia, 0408 402 222