Aboriginal Community
In a remote area in north-west Queensland Australia, there have been reported deaths of members of the Aboriginal community. An illness known as rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is claiming the lives of those living in this small population. RHD is an entirely preventable disease that rarely exists among Australians.

Who Contracts the Disease?

Rheumatic heart disease develops as a fever called rheumatic fever that worsens over time. Statistically, young children are most at risk of contracting the disease. Aboriginal cultural consultant Janelle Speed addressed the prevalence of the disease among aboriginals in the Australian Journal of General Practice: “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia have the world’s highest rates of acute rheumatic fever [ARF]/RHD.”

Symptoms of RHD

An untreated strep throat infection can lead to acute rheumatic fever and can cause irreparable damage to the major cardiac valves causing rheumatic heart disease. Of the more than 5,000 people living with RHD in Australia, 71% are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Without the proper diagnoses and treatment, 8,667 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could develop ARF/RHD by 2031. This could lead to 1,370 severe cases of RHD and 663 to die.

Curing Rheumatic Heart Disease

The Federal Government hopes to eliminate RHD by 2030, however, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures show the disease continues to increase in prevalence. People with RHD normally require ongoing medical care, antibiotic treatment and possibly cardiac surgery. By 2031, it will cost an estimated $273.4 million in medical care to treat the disease.

RHD Research

The End Rheumatic Heart Disease Centre of Research Excellence began its journey in 2014 to provide a robust plan to eradicate RHD in Australia.

Recently, The Queensland Health Minister, Yvette D’Ath, allocated $7.3 million to further research and planning for RHD. Former Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, issued a statement claiming, “Working in genuine partnership through shared decision-making and co-design with the Aboriginal community-controlled sector is critical and is the foundation of the new approach to the Government’s Rheumatic Fever Strategy commencing this year [2021–22].”

Hunt also said that the country will spend $25 million on supporting strategies to prevent RHD including an additional $12 million for activities aimed at preventing RHD throughout the country. Moreover, the University of Western Australia is working to develop a Strep A vaccine that will hopefully “accelerate the elimination of RHD.”


In order to prevent the progression of ARF into RHD, it is necessary to improve the early and accurate diagnosis of ARF and the delivery of secondary prophylaxis.

The collective experience of clinicians, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organizations, government and non-government organizations, and research, means the knowledge now exists to permanently eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia.

– Kiara Finch
Photo: Picryl

Reducing Domestic Violence
The Australian government is reducing domestic violence through laws and policies, which is also good for reducing poverty. Here is some information about the link between domestic violence and poverty, in addition to how Australia is attempting to alleviate the issues.

The Link Between Domestic Violence and Poverty

Julie Henson told the Indianapolis Recorder that “the lower the income, the higher prevalence for abuse. Poverty can be a cause of domestic violence, and domestic violence can be a cause for poverty.”

For women who are victims of domestic violence, countercurrents.org explained that attempting to leave an abusive situation may lead to the victim losing her “job, housing, health care, child care, or access to her partner’s income.

About 97% of domestic abuse victims also experience economic abuse, which is when the perpetrator will exploit the victim’s finances. When the victim leaves, economic abuse often increases, leaving them at risk of sinking further into poverty.

Reducing Domestic Violence in Australia

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 17% of women and 6% of men experience physical and/or sexual violence. Additionally, one in four women and one in six men experience emotional abuse.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) explains that domestic abuse laws can have a powerful impact to discourage abusers, protect victims and improve women’s employment. Here are some ways the Australian government is reducing domestic violence.

Ways the Australian Government is Reducing Domestic Violence

  1. The Family Violence Act. Australia passed this Act in 2011, which is aiming to improve the law’s response to family violence and is still undergoing revisions today. It emphasizes children’s well-being and maintaining a good relationship with both parents. The Act defines what constitutes abuse, including emotional abuse as part of the definition. It also improves court proceedings by ensuring access to evidence and making it easier for child protective services to be part of the process.
  2. The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. This plan includes measures to decrease the number of deaths due to domestic violence and sexual assault and reduce the number of children who witness violence at home. The plan aims to accomplish its goals mainly by educating the public and improving the way media outlets cover the topic of violence. This plan has been in effect since 2010 and is still active to this day.
  3. Banning Domestic Abusers From Entering the Country. Another way the Australian government is reducing domestic violence is by sending a message to abusers that they are not welcome in their country. In 2019, Australia banned those convicted of domestic violence from visiting or moving to the country. Australia can even force abusers already living in the country out. While this may keep Australia safer, New Zealand criticized this policy, claiming that it just perpetuates the cycle of abuse in other countries.
  4. The Coercive Control Bill. Coercive control is when abusers continuously deny victims of their independence. In 2021, the Australian government proposed a bill to criminalize these actions, proposing a jail sentence of up to seven years. If passed, the bill could reduce domestic murders, as coercive control is often a warning sign for this. To comment on how the Australian government is reducing domestic violence, The Borgen Project spoke with Rosemary O’Malley, CEO of the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre (DVPC) in Queensland. O’Malley stated that the Coercive Control legislation is “expected to be rolled out sometime next year” in Queensland.

The National Domestic Violence Order (DVO)

Adding to this list, O’Malley cited the National Domestic Violence Order (DVO) Scheme as a highly impactful domestic violence reduction policy. O’Malley explained that this means that, from 2017 on, “DVOs issued in any state or territory will apply, and be enforceable, in all states and territories in Australia.”

The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence

Other ways that O’Malley said that Australia is reducing domestic violence include the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2015, the 2015 Not Now Not Ever Report and a current “national curriculum called Respectful Relationships which is being rolled out from Years 1-12.”

She elaborated that the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence has “driven policy change and significant increases in funding in that State” and that the Not Now, Not Ever Report has “led to Specialist DV Courts and High Risk Teams being established around the State.”

– Ava Ronning
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Australia
As a signatory of the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), Australia aims to completely eradicate poverty by 2030. Unfortunately, the country is yet to reach the goal of zero poverty and the problem persists for the nation coming out of COVID-19 restrictions. Presently, Australia has a comparatively higher-than-average poverty rate when considering the other 34 wealthiest countries in the OECD. With the general fall of average income across the nation and the cuts on income support for poorer families coming out of the pandemic, poverty in Australia is not going to disappear any time soon. Here are several facts to know about poverty in Australia.

The Poverty Line

In order to get to grips with everything you need to know about poverty in Australia, one must become familiar with the specified criteria the nation has for quantifying poverty. Due to its reputation as a developed nation, the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) and UNSW classify poverty through a measure of the number of people living below the country’s poverty line. This amounts to the number of people living below the 50% median household after-tax income, or $489 a week for a single adult and $1,027 a week for a couple with two children. Unfortunately, as of the most recent 2022 report, one in eight Australians are living below this minimum. In other words, poverty in Australia disproportionately impacts more than 3.3 million people.

How Income Support Lifted Australians Out of Poverty During the Pandemic

According to the latest 2022 report by ACOSS, the number of people living below the poverty line fell drastically after the introduction of temporary income support payments to mediate the aftereffects of COVID-19 restrictions. From the start of the pandemic, 13.4% of Australians lived below the poverty line, this soared in the March quarter of 2020 to 14.6%. However, the supplementary payments granted citizens the necessary support required to lift themselves out of poverty. A consequence of the increased income support saw an additional 646,000 people or 2.6% of Australians rise out of poverty, with overall poverty in Australia falling to just 12%.

The effects these payments had on the overall number of children living below the poverty line are even more dramatic. The child poverty rate fell from 19% in March 2020 to an impressive feat of 13.7% in June of the same year, effectively managing to lift 245,000 children out of poverty.

As of April 2021, however, the Australian government has retracted these income support payments, feeling they are no longer necessary after coming out of the pandemic. The “coronavirus supplement” has been entirely redacted and in its place, the JobSeeker payment has been increased by only $25 a week. The Senate has launched an inquiry into the rates and main drivers of poverty in the nation, however, welfare advocates argue that the state has all the evidence necessary to make a change. Instead, they believe that the subsequent inaction is a deliberate means of neglecting the most vulnerable. Some have taken it further and equated the reduction to a “political choice.”

An Influential Organization

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) is an organization that facilitates the eradication of poverty and inequality throughout the continent. Working to ensure that Australia complies with the targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they advocate for the nation’s most vulnerable, while mobilizing governments and communities to contribute to the discourse surrounding poverty.

ACOSS’ main areas of focus include access to employment services for the disadvantaged, an impartial social security system and ensuring governments are accountable for an equitable tax system. Its research papers have been pivotal to the understanding and further implementation of poverty-reducing measures. Key organizations now hold a deeper insight into everything you need to know about poverty in Australia as a result.

– Namra Tahir
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Impact of COVID-19 On Poverty In Australia
While the rest of the world became vulnerable to poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia showed a remarkable immunity to the pandemic’s effects on poverty. In fact, in 2020, Australia managed to reduce poverty by 50% and “significantly reduce income inequality.” As such, this Oceania country became a model for other countries. However, after 2020, Australia began to abandon the measures it implemented to protect people from poverty, worsening the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Australia.

Initial Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Australia

Typically, poverty increases during a recession. However, this was not the case in Australia during the Alpha wave of the pandemic. A recent report released by the UNSW Sydney and ACOSS Poverty and Inequality Partnership in March 2022 highlights how Australia decreased poverty from March 2020 to December 2020.

Despite unemployment rates increasing from 5.1% to 17% and the gross domestic product (GDP) shrinking by 7% during the June quarter of 2020, the “average incomes of the lowest 80% of households” expanded from March 2020 to December 2020. More specifically, the average income of the lowest 20% income population increased by 8% and the middle 20% saw an average income increase of 11%.

In 2019, about 3 million people lived in poverty in Australia, but in June 2020, poverty affected 2.6 million people, which is about 50% less than Australia expected.

This is largely due to the Coronavirus Supplement, which is an additional top-up payment for people on welfare. It supplemented the JobSeeker Payment, which began in March 2020 as a government-issued support to help employers retain employees.

Because of the coupled efforts of the Coronavirus Supplement and the JobSeeker Payment, 9.9% of the population stood below the line of poverty in June 2020 compared to the 22.7% expected poverty percentage without further income support.

Poverty among people on JobSeeker Payment support also reduced sharply, dropping from 76% in 2019 to 15% in 2020.

How the Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Australia Reversed

During the Delta wave of the pandemic in 2021, Australia imposed lockdowns and “the effective unemployment rate” (individuals working no hours and people who exited the workforce) increased to 9%. This is because, by April 2021, Australia had eliminated both the Coronavirus Supplement and JobKeeper Payment. It introduced the COVID Disaster Payment in September 2021, but this support had a more narrow target — “80[%] of those on the lowest income support payment were excluded,” says UNSW Sydney. Subsequently, poverty rates increased by roughly 20% and income inequality rose along with it.

In September 2021, only 17% of “people under the lockdown on the lowest income support payments” received the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, which most likely left the remaining people, 765,000, in poverty. When Australia phased out the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, around 1.6 million people were on “lowest income support payments” — roughly “25% more than before the pandemic” in 2019.

The Government and Poverty

Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic shows that the government can end poverty. As Dr. Cassandra Goldie said in an article by UNSW Sydney, poverty and income inequality grow because of government policies, but when governments introduce effective social policies, like the Coranavirus Supplement, poverty can also greatly reduce. By spending on essentials and sending out vital help, the government was able to keep people in jobs, softening the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Australia. Thus, Australia’s unique situation during the pandemic reveals the power the government holds in exacerbating or ending poverty.

– Samyukta Gaddam
Photo: Unsplash

Zero-Emission Goals On July 20, 2022, Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Chief Minister Andrew Barr released the Zero Emissions Vehicles Strategy. This initiative aims to revolutionize the ACT’s motor vehicle market by heavily promoting the sale and purchase of electric vehicles. It requires an overhaul of incentives, with increased accessibility and availability of zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) to gain resident support. However, some are concerned that the ambitious zero-emission goals aren’t mindful of how low-income residents will be affected.

Zero-Emission Goals

As of January 1, 2020, Canberra became the first non-European city to be powered completely by renewable electricity. The ZEV Strategy is the next step toward one of the capital government’s zero-emission goals to be carbon neutral by 2045. The ACT Greenhouse Gas Inventory for 2020-21 reported that the transport sector contributed the most emissions, making up to 63.5% of all carbon emissions in the territory.

Last month, Canberra announced its plan to become the first city in the ACT to ban the purchase of new fossil fuel vehicles by 2035. The purchase ban includes motorcycles and small trucks.  Within the next eight years, the goal is to have 80-90% of compact vehicle sales be zero-emission.

Resident Reactions

Despite the initiative’s good intentions, some are concerned about how the zero-emission strategy will affect Canberra’s low-income residents. “[It’s] one of the main concerns for most people,” 22-year-old Alysha Muhamad Khairuldin told The Borgen Project. The part-time technical expert depends heavily on her car to get to work as public transportation is limited in the city’s suburbs. “[I’m] not sure how this will affect me personally but hopefully, when they do decide to proceed with this plan, they will make good changes including making it affordable.”

Another Canberra resident, 21-year-old Callum Stewart-Thomson, divides his time between attending classes and working two jobs. “I’m not super comfortable [with my current financial situation] and would prefer not to have to stress about money so much,” he told The Borgen Project. Like Khairuldin, he also depends on driving as his main mode of transportation. “I chose petrol because it was the cheapest option, I can’t afford any other options,” he said.

The National Roads and Motorists’ Association reports that full battery electric vehicles can start at $47,500 in addition to on-road costs in Australia. Financing concerns include registration, stamp duty and electric vehicle charging rates. Other worries include having a shorter travel range, longer “fueling” time and lack of charging stations.

Following Suit

Australia isn’t the only country aiming to decrease motor vehicle carbon emissions. Within the next 20 years, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Denmark and parts of the U.S. will restrict the sale of new gas-fueled vehicles. Some cities have also begun introducing electric public transportation. It is predicted that by 2025, electric vehicle sales will triple to around 20.6 million.

Canberra’s ZEV Strategy includes expanding the current charging network. At least 180 new charging stations will be accessible within the next three years, with 70 to be completed this fiscal year. The ACT government also announced that all new multi-unit commercial and residential buildings will be required to include charging stations. The government is offering a $2,000 incentive for the installation.

Going Green for Less

There are further incentives to make ZEVs more affordable. The current registration system is weight-based, making heavier electric vehicles more expensive to register. The new registration system will be emissions-based. Until June 30, 2024, all electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles registered in the territory will receive two years of free registration. The same vehicles will also be eligible for an exemption from stamp duty, a document and transaction tax.

The Sustainable Household Scheme, running until 2026, is offering up to $15,000 in zero-interest, 10-year loans. Those who are eligible may use this loan for energy-efficient improvements, including ZEVs, charging infrastructure, installation costs and more. The loan may be used to cover the costs of one or more approved products up to the maximum amount of $15,000.

– Aishah French
Photo: Unsplash

Australia's New Points-Based Welfare System
Australia’s new points-based welfare system will come into effect beginning July 1, 2022. The program, which seeks to modify the existing welfare system to make receiving government help accessible to those who need it, is controversial. According to the Department of Education, the program counts various tasks and activities for points.

New Points-Based Welfare System to Alleviate Poverty

Attending a job interview, for example, counts for 20 points while completing a job application counts for five, according to The Guardian. Australia, despite having one of the highest GDPs worldwide—ranks 13 out of 195— reports one in eight individuals live in poverty. Australia’s new points-based welfare system seeks to alleviate poverty by encouraging people to enter or reenter the workforce so that they do not require as much welfare.

Proponents of the policy argue that the program will expedite aid to those in need and will make restrictions less rigid. Critics suggest that the program’s reliance on technology to decide which applicants are in need is subject to bias and error, The Guardian reported.

Under the new welfare system, job seekers will not have to satisfy the current requirement of applying to 20 jobs to qualify for welfare payments, which many consider rigid.

Instead, the government will implement a points-based system where jobseekers will need to accumulate a certain number of points over the course of the month to be eligible for the welfare payment for that month. The new system is controversial, as proponents think it will solve some of Australia’s existing welfare issues, while critics suggest that it will limit welfare to those in need.

Unemployment Inequalities

Though the country’s unemployment rate as of 2022 is 3.5%, which is relatively low, many still find themselves in need of work. In 2020, 13.6% of Australians lived below the poverty line. Scholars and academics in Australia often hold that the country’s political and social structure is much to blame for entrenched inequality.

A 2010 Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) report explains that some of the existing inequalities are because Australians are not able to take advantage of their existing opportunities. Other inequalities exist because the system is not able to support the number of people who require aid. Moreover, that report also notes that the number of people living in poverty in 2006 was 11%.

Socio-Economic Problems

The main problem that Australia faces is that its low unemployment rate masks many of the socio-economic problems that the country faces. Many individuals work part-time or reduced hours, so though they have employment, they are not making the same that a full-time salaried person would make, the ACOSS report shows.

The same report explains that the percentage of Australians living in poverty while working, known as the working poor, has grown by 9.4% from 2003 to 2006. However, the issue remains that although many individuals struggle to make ends meet, they do not qualify for most of the government support that exists in Australia as they have formal employment but are not making enough to live comfortably.

Though most Australians remain in the workforce at least to some extent, the necessary income does not flow to those in need. Therefore, the welfare system is under strain, as people are still in need, though they may find help difficult to come by. Australia’s new points-based welfare system is attempting to redirect aid directly to those most in need.

As of 2020, one in six children in Australia was living in poverty, which leads to significant socio-economic inequality later in life. For example, children from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to complete secondary education than children from higher socio-economic backgrounds. This disparity exacerbates as people age, as those who complete more school often have more job opportunities later in life.

Looking Ahead

The poverty rate appears to have slowed during the last decade, as it sits at about 13%. Though 13% is still high, Australians look to the slower rate as a sign that policy-alleviating efforts, such as Australia’s new points-based welfare system, across the country are effective. The new welfare system has not had enough time to go into effect, but those tracking poverty in Australia are hopeful that the new system will curb the poverty rate, as it targets Australians most in need.

– Lara Drinan
Photo: Flickr

Food insecurity in Australia
Australian adults are the wealthiest in the world, yet food insecurity remains a prevalent issue in the country. One-quarter of adults experience food insecurity in Australia, while one in six people experience disruptions in their eating patterns and reduced food intake. According to Food Bank Australia, ” “These individuals and families are often forced to eat smaller meals and to make the food last longer or skip meals entirely.” Large bills or unexpected costs of living are among the top reasons why people cannot afford food. As a consequence of inadequate nutrition, many Australian adults are unable to achieve an active and healthy lifestyle. To combat the growing problem of food insecurity in Australia, interest groups like the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the Regrarians use lobbying to push for change.

Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance

Meeting different party demands is up to the farmers and civil society organizations like the AFSA. With 700 members, the AFSA represents workers, communities and smallholders to protect their right to nourish and culturally appropriate food grown in their homesteads. Distributing food to the poor requires socially-just management before anyone can receive aid.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) uses scientific infrastructure to fight to end food insecurity. Starting as an advisory board in 1916, its focuses range from changing weather to human welfare. CSIR assists the nation with converting food waste and researching sustainable foods.

One focus is chronic diseases which cost Australian society and government $58 billion in 2008. To reduce their occurrence, CSIR scientists create whole grains with human health benefits. Breakfast cereals, rice mixes, food wraps and bread incorporate the new whole grain. The projected outcome would save the country $17 million a year.


Regrarians, which is a term referring to a neologism of ‘regenerative agrarian’, work to make soil regeneration a precedent for farmers. A study from Ecdysis Foundation found that farms with regenerative practices were 78% more profitable than conventional plots. The Regrarians supply information for farmers to regenerate, restore and rekindle landscapes. The organization aims to notify consumers about the regenerative economy through education programs, media and goods.

Adults who cannot eat regularly rely on the food systems in Australia. Multidisciplinary science and industry export leaders surface when alms count against monetary sales. More than 15,000 people receive information from the Regrarians to create regenerative landscapes, involved societies and industry cures. Getting the country to improve food security requires intelligent leaders in CSIR and experienced farmers in the AFSA.

– Bryant Morisseau
Photo: Flickr

Gender Wage Gap in Australia
Australia has the world’s 13th-largest economy by gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022. Nonetheless, there is a significant gender wage gap in Australia. According to the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), the gender wage gap is the difference in average earnings between females and males. A variety of factors contribute to reduced wages for women in comparison to men, causing the former to lag behind economically. In this sense, Australia is setting forward further acts to close the gap, given its previous shortcomings.


Over the last two decades, the gender wage gap in Australia has varied from 13% to 19%. According to the latest data from November 2021, the gender pay gap stands at 13.8%, which WGEA measured with information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). As of November 2021, “women’s average weekly total full-time earnings are $316.80 less” than men. For women who work part-time, “women’s average weekly total earnings are $483.30 less per week than men.” The World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Australia 50th out of 156 nations, much lower than Australia’s 15th ranking in 2006.

Contributing Factors to the Gender Wage Gap in Australia

The WGEA 2021 report lists four major culprits behind the gender wage gap in Australia:

  1. Discrimination in workplace recruitment and wage/salary decisions.
  2. Gender-dominant industries, “with female-dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages.”
  3. Women bear the burden of unpaid childcare with inadequate job flexibility “to accommodate these responsibilities,” especially in higher-level job roles.
  4. Women require more time outside of the labor force, which detrimentally affects their career advancement and opportunities for progression.

Disrupted Past Actions

Australia stood as a pioneer in implementing laws to uphold the principle “equal pay for equal work” in 1969 as well as 1972, later bringing gender equality reporting in 1986. In 2012, the Workplace Gender Equality Act came into operation, asking employers to file an annual report with WGEA containing “data by gender on remuneration, workforce composition and the recruitment, promotions and resignations of their employees.”

Furthermore, in 2017, the government introduced “Towards 2025: An Australian Government strategy to boost women’s workforce participation,” with the aim to close the gender gap in workforce participation by 25% by the year 2025. This would equate to adding 200,000 Australian females to the nation’s workforce.

Indeed, the early results were promising, with the national gender pay gap decreasing from 18.6% (2014) to 14.1% (2018). That said, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic stifled progress, resulting in a minor increase to 14.2% (2021), indicating that full-time working Australian women would have had to work an additional 61 days in a period of 12 months to earn the equivalent of a male in the same position.

COVID-19 aside, Australia lacked transparency and accountability in terms of action to create change, despite “a world-leading dataset on workplace gender equality.” The incentives or penalties introduced by the nation were not effective enough to alter behavior on an organizational level. Specifically, the country only insisted on large-scale, private corporations reporting on gender equality, meaning many other entities did not have equal gender equality responsibilities.

Looking Ahead

As Australia’s economy recovers from the pandemic, Danielle Wood, CEO of Melbourne’s Grattan Institute, recommended in a report that “the Federal Government supports women’s jobs by making a longer-term investment in childcare to encourage women’s workforce participation.”

The Australian government gives the main caretaker of a newborn or adopted child 18 weeks of paid parental leave. Australian women utilize about 98% of Australia’s government-financed paid parental leave.

On May 9, 2022, the Australian Greens political party released a policy to raise wages in female-dominated industries, namely nursing, childcare and education, with the first and foremost purpose to force the gender wage gap in Australia to narrow.

Regarding transparency and accountability, the WGEA is taking action to ensure gender equality and close the gender pay gap. Established in 1986, the WGEA uses data-driven strategies to create change. The agency utilizes four main strategies to address the gender wage gap and gender inequality as a whole.

These consist of helping employers fulfill reporting requirements under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 and publishing lists of non-compliant organizations to push for change. In addition, the organization runs a Pay Equity Ambassador program so that leaders within businesses can influence and promote pay equity within the workplace. Furthermore, standout organizations receive an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation award to recognize efforts to advance equality and encourage commitments to transformative change.

The ongoing efforts to bridge the gender wage gap in Australia, particularly those efforts learned from past experiences, promise a bright future in which women and men receive equal payment and treatment.

– Lan Nguyen
Photo: Unsplash

Impoverished Indigenous Australians
As of 2021, Australia remains within the top 15 economies in the world. However, as the Australian economy flourishes, the Indigenous Australian community remains a forgotten minority. According to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), a former Indigenous Australian government body, this marginalization increases several poverty risks within the community. In reference to research that the ATSIC conducted, more than 120,000 Indigenous Australians are currently living below the poverty line. This indicator signifies that more than 30% of the Australian Indigenous population endure “income poverty” and suffer from various forms of inequality on several life-impacting bases. A closer look at the challenges for impoverished Indigenous Australians provides insight into the severity of this marginalization.

Education and Work

Indigenous Australians often face income inequality when they join the workforce. Between 2018 and 2019, the weekly “median gross adjusted household income” of Indigenous Australians aged 18 and older was approximately $553. This number is a cause for concern because it is significantly lower than the wages of non-Indigenous Australians whose weekly median gross household income is about 65% higher.

Moreover, Indigenous teenagers are three times more likely to not receive full-time education than any non-indigenous group in Australia. Roughly 70% of young adult Australian Indigenous people do not work a full-time job or engage in full-time education, which causes an increased risk that affects their income average, living standards and overall quality of life.

Indigenous Australians must overcome several struggles when seeking out education. One of the biggest obstacles Indigenous Australians in under-funded or rural areas must overcome is the language barrier. The Australian nationwide curriculum includes only English instruction, which creates a language barrier for students within remote Indigenous areas.

Furthermore, schools in rural areas often occupied by Indigenous Australians are severely underfunded. The Australian government spends 47 cents on education per child in remote communities for every dollar spent on education per child in the Northern Territory of Australia. Also, many impoverished Australian students live with their extended family in overcrowded households, which creates distractions and deprioritizes education for Indigenous youth. All the factors mentioned above lead to an increased poverty rate in Indigenous communities due to the poor quality of education or the complete lack of it.


Poverty within Indigenous Australian groups is also a significant contributor to the increased health hazards Indigenous Australians face. Many illnesses threaten the lives of indigenous Australians at much higher rates than non-Indigenous Australians. For example, diseases that otherwise do not exist within other communities threaten Indigenous Australian communities. Moreover, disability, as well as chronic and terminal illness, are observed at much higher rates within Indigenous communities throughout the country. These implications lead to a decreased life expectancy among Indigenous Australians as projections determine that they could live “20 years less” than any other group of people in Australia.

It is important to note that, according to a 2019 Oxfam analysis of Australian inequality, Australian indigenous women face several additional threats when it comes to poverty. Many gender-based health risks arise due to poverty and inequality. Indigenous Australian women face an increased infant mortality rate. In fact, the infant mortality rate for Indigenous Australian women is about twice the rate of their non-indigenous counterparts. In addition, Indigenous Australian women face the consequences of income inequality. Women in Australia make 85 cents for every dollar a man makes. This income gap widens further when it comes to Indigenous women, which puts them at an increased risk of poverty.

Combating COVID-19

The Australian Department of Health states that COVID-19 poses a greater health risk to Indigenous Australians in comparison to non-Indigenous people. Several structural and systematic injustices, such as limited access to health care, added risks due to pre-existing health issues and the lifestyles within remote Indigenous Australian communities, lead to this reality. However, the Australian government launched several efforts to help lessen the dire impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Indigenous Australians. This assistance materialized in the Indigenous community as 53% of Indigenous Australians older than 16 were receiving income support throughout the pandemic, which helped alleviate the impacts poverty has on these communities all over the country.

Community Support for Impoverished Indigenous Australians

While injustices continue to increasingly affect Indigenous Australian communities, it is important to note that activists are leading multiple efforts and initiatives to aid with alleviating poverty in these communities. For example, based in Victoria, Australia, Pay The Rent Grassroots Collective is a collaborative effort between Australians that aids struggling Indigenous Australians by collecting funds from non-Indigenous Australians. Because of this group, many native clans and people avoid instability by allowing the Indigenous Australians within Pay The Rent’s decision-making team to study the community’s needs and establish solutions to meet these needs.

As social and economic hardship continues to affect Indigenous Australians, taking action through evident support and direct aid to the community’s most vulnerable is more important than ever. As funds increase, it is clear to see that the nongovernmental organizations founded by Indigenous Australians are taking steps toward alleviating poverty among impoverished Indigenous Australians.

– Nohad Awada
Photo: Flickr

Self-Driving Boats can Reduce Poverty
Many countries around the world are developing autonomous boats for the purposes of transportation and military advancement. However, some scientists are developing autonomous boats for humanitarian and environmental purposes, such as aid transportation, marine safety, data collection and energy conservation. Self-driving boats can reduce poverty by saving refugees’ lives, distributing aid, collecting data relevant to poverty reduction and protecting the oceans, all of which benefit people in low-income areas.

Marine Safety

Self-driving boats can act as highly effective lifeguards, especially in waters that are too dangerous or difficult for human lifeguards to swim through. In 2020, the Australian government granted $5.5 million to a startup company named Ocious Technology to provide Australia with several autonomous boats to save refugees at sea from drowning. The vessels are solar-powered and are equipped with “360-degree cameras, radar, automatic identification systems and collision avoidance software.” The vessels are large enough to carry several people from sea to safety, in contrast with a human lifeguard who would likely only be able to save a limited number of people. According to Statista, “from January to September 2021, “almost 1,400 migrants lost their lives while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Self-driving boats can reduce poverty by addressing refugee crises, providing humanitarian lifeguard assistance to those in need.

Aid Transportation

Self-driving boats are capable of transporting both people and goods. In addition to their “lifeguarding” abilities, the ships can transport humanitarian aid to economically developing countries. Many autonomous boats have propellers that allow them to move in any direction as well as a “series of cameras and sensors to guide [their] movements.” Some self-driving boats can also sync up with other boats, creating groups of boats that can travel long distances together. As a result, autonomous boats can be highly effective tools for transporting essential goods, such as aid. Without the need for a person to man the vessel, autonomous ships can safely deliver aid to war-ridden countries that are too dangerous for humans to enter.

Data Collection

Autonomous boats can collect a wide range of data relevant to poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. Equipped with cameras and a variety of sensors, the boats can collect mass data about the ocean as well as temperature, air pressure, wind direction, solar intensity, wave height and more at a given location. Scientists can use the sensors on autonomous ships to study and preserve marine life, discover food and water sources and even locate missing people and items. Furthermore, fishers can use data from the ships to maximize their catches and ensure the marine item is a sustainable source, which benefits fishers economically and ensures adequate food for their local communities. As such, self-driving boats can reduce poverty by preserving marine ecosystems and improving access to food in low-income communities.

Environmental Benefits

Autonomous boats can also collect rubbish, monitor marine biodiversity and hydrocarbons, check for oil leaks and collect oceanographic and meteorological data. The boats can help keep oceans healthy and clean, which is beneficial to both people and the environment. According to the United Nations, oceans provide humans with food, drinking water, rainwater and even oxygen. Therefore, as a global resource, it is crucial to preserve the sea. Autonomous robots can protect oceans from pollution and acidification, which both harm ecosystems and biodiversity to a great extent. Self-driving boats can reduce poverty by protecting the oceans, thereby supporting small-scale fisheries in developing countries.

– Cleo Hudson
Photo: Flickr