Causes of Poverty in AustraliaThere are many causes of poverty in Australia. It has been almost 30 years since then Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, said, “No child will be living in poverty by 1990.” However, poverty in this country has not decreased despite recent economic growth.

Cassandra Goldie, chief executive of Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) called it a “national shame.” Despite 25 years of continued economic growth, the poverty rate has not budged. The percentage of people living in poverty rose from 12 percent in 2004 to 13 percent in 2014. Moreover, Australia has the second-highest rate of workers employed in insecure work – a total of 40 percent. Children are the worst-affected by poverty in Australia; 17 percent of children live below the poverty line. The percentage of children living in poverty is especially high for single-parent families. The number rose from 37 percent in 2012 to 41 percent in 2014.

What are the causes of poverty in Australia? Some activists blame the growing wage gap in the country. Australia’s wealthiest 10 percent own 45 percent of the capital in the country, and the gap is only widening. The wealth of the top 20 percent has increased by 28 percent between 2012 and 2014. Meanwhile, the bottom 20 percent have experienced a wealth increase of only three percent. The average wage increased by 50 percent between 1985 and 2010. Meanwhile, the poorest 10 percent experienced only a 14 percent wage increase.

Another reason that is suggested as a cause of poverty in Australia is the cuts to welfare payments and housing. Goldie claims that budget cuts to welfare payments directly affect the ability of the impoverished to gain employment. Public housing is also not widespread enough. There are more than 150,000 applicants waiting to find available space in public housing.

The decline of unions is also suggested as one of the causes of poverty in Australia. Unions help drive up wages and economic equality. However, lately, union membership has decreased. This means that ordinary workers get less political power.

Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, needs to focus more energy on addressing poverty. This means increasing shelter for the homeless, encouraging union membership and driving up the minimum wage. There are many causes of poverty in Australia, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be addressed in order to begin seeing improvement.

Bruce Edwin Ayres Truax

Photo: Google

Human Rights in IrelandIreland, a small country located just west of the United Kingdom, is known for its scenic landscapes and welcoming pubs.

In recent years, human rights in Ireland have fallen under scrutiny.

According to an article from the Irish Times, Ireland agreed to be a part of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1989, which is concerned with a range of human rights from employment rights to the right to food and water. Since entering this agreement, Ireland has been monitored by the UN.

Concerns arose with respect to Ireland following this agreement in 1999 and 2002, after the UN committee reviewed two reports. The country was found to be lacking in areas of anti-poverty, rights for persons with disabilities, provision of healthcare and more.

The UN committee later examined similar human rights issues in December 2014, focusing on the ill treatment of persons with disabilities in residential care, low minimum wage, failure of the State to recognize traveler ethnicity and affordable and quality water supply. It had been over a decade since the UN committee last reviewed Ireland’s economic, social and cultural rights, according to the Irish Times article.

Another prominent human rights issue in Ireland is abortion. According to a report from Human Rights in Ireland, abortion is only legal there when the mother’s life is in danger. This, the report says, makes Ireland’s policies on abortion some of the strictest in the world.

Last month, the Committee Against Torture turned toward Ireland’s lack of progress in respect to their laws on abortion. This organization has said that prior to any adjustments of its abortion laws, Ireland must explain its human rights obligations to its residents. According to Human Rights in Ireland, four other major international human rights committees have criticized the Irish framework in the past as well.

While issues of human rights in Ireland have fallen under scrutiny in recent years, global organizations are at work to improve conditions for the country’s residents.

Leah Potter

Photo: Google

Human Rights in IcelandIceland is a Nordic nation with a population slightly over 300,000 people. Despite its small size, Iceland stands out among other nations in a variety of ways. Geographically, the nation is known for its beautiful sights including volcanoes and hot springs. Economically, the nation boasts an impressive statistics, such as its four percent unemployment rate. Human rights in Iceland are protected fairly well, but certain aspects could be improved.

The United States Department of State’s 2015 Human Rights Report on Iceland concluded that the nation’s biggest failures in this context were to protect women and children from violence. These issues tended to stem from the criminal justice system. For instance, pretrial detainees were forced to share a cell with convicted prisoners, while juveniles were forced to share a cell with adults.

Unfortunately, the report found issues existing beyond the criminal justice system. Discrepancies in access to health care for certain individuals was noticeable. Researchers also found discrimination against people with disabilities in regard to employment and access to public locations. This report clearly demonstrates that Iceland must take measures so that human rights truly include everyone.

However, these few failures do not represent the entire situation in Iceland. In fact, the vast majority of human rights in Iceland are well protected. Freedom of speech and the press are protected by the constitution and the law in Iceland. The law is able to fine and/or imprison anyone who blocks people from this right.

Another area of success is Iceland’s protection of workers’ rights. The government effectively enforces laws that defend workers’ rights to form or join a union. Iceland also uses its laws to protect children from unhealthy work conditions. These laws are effectively enforced, and as a result, there are no known cases of child labor.

Iceland took a step forward in protecting the human rights of women this March by becoming the world’s first country to mandate that businesses demonstrate that they offer equal pay to employees regardless of their gender. This law affects all businesses, public and private, that employ over 25 people.

Human rights in Iceland are not perfectly protected. However, steps such as demanding equal pay for employees regardless of their gender shows that progress is being made.

Adam Braunstein

Photo: Flickr

South Korea's Elderly Are Living in PovertyFinancial instability is an ongoing issue for older generations in South Korea. Almost half of South Korea’s elderly are living in poverty.

The life span of South Koreans has increased, and so has economic difficulty for younger people in South Korea. This makes it much more difficult for the children of the elderly to provide for their parents in the way that South Koreans did before the 1990s.

Not only that, but the percentage of kids who believe they should take care of their ailing parents has fallen from 90 percent to 37 percent.

Benefits for the retired are not good, so even those who were financially successful during their younger days are living in severe poverty during old age.

Pensions in South Korea only add to about a quarter of the minimum household income, giving the elderly only around $200 per month. Not only that, but only around 35 percent of seniors receive any pension at all.

South Korea’s pension system did not begin until 1988, which leaves many elderly citizens without pension benefits. Even though the pension does not amount to a much, going without it makes living expenses even more costly for certain individuals.

Many elderly people in South Korea are trash collectors, attempting to scavenge up enough tossed goods to cash in for money so that they are able to buy medicine and food.

Most elderly citizens that have been interviewed feel they must perform odd jobs and find money on their own rather than asking for help. This may be because they were unable to properly provide for their children or they believe that no one owes them anything.

“You see on the news quite frequently elders who get killed by vehicles while picking up cardboard,” says Mr. Shin So Ho, manager of the grassroots organization Silver Volunteer Cooperation Associations.

On Thursdays, churches give out the equivalent of 50 cents to seniors, and it is reported that anywhere from 300 to 500 seniors show up to receive this free gift.

South Korea’s elderly are living in poverty because of these factors, but the most important factor that needs changing is government benefits in South Korea for the elderly.

Noel Mcdavid

Photo: Pixabay

Cost of Living in the United Arab Emirates
While people often banter about giving up their old lives and moving to a new, more exciting country, it’s important to explore the cost of living change that comes with it. It turns out that the cost of living in the United Arab Emirates, and Dubai especially, is higher than one might expect.

Business Insider ranks the United Arab Emirates as 10 points higher on the cost of living expense scale than the United States. Its closest neighbors in relation to the cost of living are countries such as the Bahamas and Norway.

This high cost of living is evident in everyday prices. For example, the average monthly rent for a 900-square-foot apartment is more than $2,654. An average lunch is $15 and a pair of jeans runs to around $82.

In comparison to the United States, even these daily expenses appear slightly steep. Going for lunch rings in around $14 and the same size apartment is estimated to be $2085. Jeans, by the same standards, cost $47.

Many people move to the United Arab Emirates for jobs in the oil industry and the country is known for its lack of income tax. Over the last 50 years, the nation has moved from being ranked 182 in the world for population size to 93. It continues to climb the ranks each year.

Surveys estimate that half of the expatriates, citizens of other countries living in the United Arab Emirates, consider moving elsewhere because of the high cost of living. They argue that their wages are remaining stagnant while the cost of living continues to rise.

Although the increased cost of living in the United Arab Emirates is a side effect of being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the country remains a huge contributor to international foreign aid.

Since its establishment, the total international aid provided by the United Arab Emirates’ government and non-government organizations is estimated to total $47.4 billion. This includes a recently strong focus on finding cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, with particular regards to solar power.

As the country continues to flourish, the cost of living in the United Arab Emirates is expected to increase, but private sector companies pay close attention and work to keep wages high enough to counteract inflation.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Flickr

Facts and Figures About Australia
Australia is filled with native animals and peculiar weather patterns that make it unique from the rest of the world. Some facts about this country may be common knowledge, but others are lesser-known.

Here are 10 facts and figures about Australia:

  1. Australia’s lowest temperatures are in their winter month of July. Some parts of Australia reach an average minimum temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit, while others reach as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Many well-known animals that are native to Australia include the koala bear, the kangaroo and the wombat. These are marsupials that inhabit parks across Australia.
  3. One of Australia’s most abundant plants is eucalyptus. The Blue Mountains in Australia contain the world’s most diverse selection of eucalyptus varieties. In fact, the only places in Australia that eucalyptus plants are absent from are high alpine areas!
  4. There are three different time-zone divisions in Australia which consist of Australian Eastern, Central, and Western. Only certain parts of the country observe daylight savings, but Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia do not.
  5. Australia became a nation in January of 1901. It is divided into 6 states and 2 territories: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern and Australian Capital Territories.
  6. As of 2015, there were an estimated 23.7 million people living in Australia. This number has since grown to over 24 million, with one birth occurring almost every two minutes.
  7. One-quarter of the country’s population consists of people who were born overseas. Since the year 1945, 6 million people from more than 200 countries have settled in Australia.
  8. Australia is the only nation in the world that does not share its continent with another country. Australia is its own country and its own continent.
  9. The driest occupied continent on earth is Australia. The interior of the continent receives very little rainfall, and three-quarters of Australia is considered to have an arid or semi-arid climate.
  10. Australia’s spiders are among the largest in the world. A recent spotting at an Australian home confirms a spider that spanned at least 10 inches across in size!

After reading these facts and figures about Australia, it can be seen that with cold Julys, rare native creatures and an abundant amount of eucalyptus, Australia is a truly unique country.

Trisha Noel McDavid

Photo: Pixabay

Canada's Poverty Rate
Although Canada stands as one of the world’s wealthiest nations, with above-average health care and education systems and a strong government, there is one deficit – its unbelievably high poverty rate. In fact, it was estimated in 2009 that 1 in 10 Canadians lived below the poverty line and half of Canadians were subsisting on less than $25,400. This is substantially less than a typical comfortable wage, which is $50,000. For a nation with a GDP of $1.674 trillion, the 17th best in the world, this number is startling. Considering Canada’s wealth, how can they use their financial situation in order to improve the lives of the nation’s poor?

There is no simple solution that can launch the impoverished into a better financial situation. Positive programs must be introduced in order to build a community that is focused on upward mobility and even then the process can be difficult. However, there are some proven methods to help decrease the homeless population and feed citizens who are hungry. The most important avenue towards lowering Canada’s poverty rate is through government assistance programs. As of 2014, Canada spent 15 % of its federal budget on welfare programs that include disability, housing, education, family and pension benefits.

Government aid in Canada is split into two categories: social security programs and social and welfare services. The first, social security, is used as a generic term referring to many different programs from health and education to family assistance, unemployment and old-age benefits. Old age social security benefits are especially helpful in Canada. The country’s Public Pensions System has three efficient components that ensure elderly citizens do not suffer in poverty. The first, Canada Pension Plan (CPP), is a compulsory and earnings-related program that provides income for retired and disabled workers and survivors. This is a very similar system to the United States’ Social Security program. However, the other two components of the Public Pensions system go a step further. Old Age Security (OAS) is nearly universal and is financed from general revenues and paid to almost every Canadian over the age of 65. This provides an extra step to make retirement more comfortable than the income supplied through the CPP.

Finally, the last component of the Public Pensions System tackles poverty head-on. The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a benefit program that pays non-taxable income to low and moderate-income citizens over the age of 65. This guaranteed annual income is vital to keeping the elderly population above the poverty line, and Canada’s poverty rate relatively manageable. However, it could also be useful for the rest of Canada’s working population in the low to moderate-income bracket. Since this program is not financed by tax revenue, it would not hurt the rest of the population, and it would be a way for state and local government to use their revenue to truly help the citizens who are in need. This program only finances workers and retired former workers, so there would also be an incentive for Canadian citizens to work, rather than live off of government welfare.

While these social security programs provide benefits for all and are helpful at helping Canadians rise above the poverty line, the government’s social welfare or “personal” services are also available. These services operate under the assumption that, in order to ensure that Canada’s poverty rate continues to stay low, communities need to invest in their fellow citizens. Community-based services include daycare, home-delivered meals and even counseling. Through these programs, the government has developed the tools necessary to lower the poverty rate and keep its citizens happy and healthy. From healthcare to unemployment benefits, there are resources in place for Canadians at any time of their lives.

While Canada’s poverty rate is still relatively high, there is room for positive growth. If the government continues to invest in its citizens and Canadians invest in each other, there is a great chance that the poverty rate will continue to drop, and Canada will become an example for the rest of the world.

Rachael Blandau

Photo: Google

Human Rights in Australia
The story of human rights in Australia belongs, in part, to the English convicts sent there as punishment mostly for petty thievery. However, a larger part of the tale belongs to the country’s indigenous people.

After American independence, the British needed a new place to ship criminals. England chose Australia, and between 1788 and 1868, they sent 165,000 predominantly male convicted thieves to the “land down under.” Those sent during the first 20 years were chained beneath the decks of the ships transporting them for their entire eight-month journey. Of all those sent, one-third died during the voyage. Of those who survived their sentences, very few ever returned to England.

Instead, they settled the land, starting farms and businesses that employed later convicts. But they were not the first of the continent’s inhabitants. The Aboriginal Australians, as the British called them, lived in Australia for 60,000 years before British annexation. The British did not accept any prior claims to the land.

Here is an abbreviated timeline of human rights in Australia as they impact indigenous people:

  • 1804: Tasmanian settlers were authorized to shoot indigenous Australians.
  • 1816: The governor of New South Wales extended “white law” to certain indigenous Australians while declaring Martial Law against others.
  • 1838: The government enacted Prohibition laws against indigenous people. They weren’t overturned until 1963.
  • 1843: The governor of New South Wales’ proposal that courts allow indigenous Australians’ evidence fails. The first use of such evidence did not occur until 1876.
  • 1869: The governor was allowed to order the removal of indigenous children to reform or industrial schools and to apprentice them at age 13.
  • 1886: The Half-Caste Act passed, extending many of the laws impacting indigenous children to mixed-race children.
  • 1901: The Commonwealth of Australia formed. The Constitution excludes indigenous people from the right to vote or be counted in the census. It was not until 1962 that indigenous Australians were enfranchised. Counting them in the census did not occur until 1967.
  • 1901: The White Australia Policy, a series of laws that prevented non-white immigration, remained in effect until 1972.
  • 1943: The government offered Exemption Certificates to indigenous Australians, colloquially called “dog tags,” which conferred limited citizenship rights to those willing to relinquish personal and cultural history. As the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports: “It was a license to live in a white man’s world … But holding a Certificate of Exemption meant effectively renouncing your culture and heritage.”
  • 1910-1907: The government enacted an assimilation policy, which for many “half-castes” included adoption into white families. Generations of indigenous and “half-caste” children were removed from their families and placed under the guardianship of the state.  These children came to be known as “The Stolen Generations.”

A 1967 referendum in which 90% of Australians voted to remove discriminatory clauses in their Constitution was the first step in the reconciliation movement meant to restore human rights in Australia. For the first time, indigenous Australians were counted in the census and given citizenship. Much more needs to be done about high rates of homelessness, incarceration and unemployment among Australia’s indigenous people. However, the government and the population are committed to change.

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet links to 168 projects and programs related to the culture of indigenous people. Additionally, Caritas Australia works to support self-determination among them. Meanwhile, indigenous-led tourism is being used to promote reconciliation. “For 250 years they’ve been told their culture is worthless,” says John Morse, formerly a manager with Tourism Australia, the government’s tourism division. “All of a sudden people are traveling to see it, and truly understanding it is extraordinarily rich and fascinating.

Laurie Gold

Photo: Flickr

At the Leader’s Summit on Refugees on September 20, 2016, then-President Barack Obama announced the creation of the World Bank Global Concessional Finance Facility in response to the additional costs middle-income countries have incurred because of the refugee crisis.

As of June 2017, the Global Concessional Finance Facility has approved $900 million of concessional financing — financing at a reduced rate compared to market value — for development projects in target nations.

Initially, the concessional finance facility provided funds solely to Jordan and Lebanon, two middle-income nations which together have accepted two million Syrian refugees, the largest amount in the world relative to population.

The new objective is to raise $1 billion for Jordan and Lebanon and an additional $500 million for other potential middle-income countries which could face an influx of refugees in the next five years.

While refugee host nations generally receive humanitarian assistance, long-term development is often ignored, hurting native populations. Jordan, for example, has had to spend an additional $550 million annually to assist the refugees.

The goals of the World Bank’s Global Concessional Finance Facility are to bridge humanitarian into long-term assistance, increase international coordination to address the refugee crisis, provide aid to both the native and local populations of target nations and implement sustainable policy reforms.

Japan is the top contributor to the fund allocating $100 million. The U.S. has contributed $50 million. Overall, there are 10 supporting countries.

Every dollar in grant contribution equals $4 in concessional financing. If the World Bank’s goal is reached, the international organization will be able to provide $6 billion in financing to middle-income countries for development projects.

Two recent projects funded by the Global Concessional Finance Facility that benefited both native and refugee populations were a $250 million grant for improving water and electricity delivery and $200 million apportioned for updating the road system in Lebanon.

The very first project funded by the facility was a $300 million investment called the Economic Opportunities for Jordanians and Syrian Refugee Program, which bolstered Jordan’s labor market. This was especially useful in Jordan, where 84% of refugees live in urban and rural areas as opposed to refugee camps.

The issues facing countries that accept Syrian refugees are daunting. In relative terms, Lebanon has accepted the equivalent of the population of France moving to the U.S. Nevertheless, the global community has taken a step to alleviate the burden of a few countries to not only avert disaster but to recognize public good and promote international cooperation.

Sean Newhouse

Photo: Flickr

bilateral organization
Multilateral organizations are international organizations that include several nations acting together. Bilateral organizations fulfill similar missions in slightly different ways. A bilateral organization is a government agency or nonprofit organization that receives funding from its home country’s government to then be used toward a developing country. This aid is more specifically targeted than multilateral aid, which may go through an international organization such as the United Nations.

These organizations, whether large or small, have the sole intention of aiding conflicts suffered by people. From the unfortunate effects of drought to the outbreak of a deadly disease, bilateral organizations are there to provide assistance. These nonprofits give aid by providing water and supplies for treatments and vaccines. While much of its aid is used for natural disasters, the organization also tends to society’s needs as well.

Some bilateral organizations include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The largest bilateral organization is USAID, which works to improve global health through immunization, better nutrition and other similar programs. Along with these larger organizations, there are many smaller ones as well. The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), for example, promotes, protects and advances the health and safety of nations around the world. It performs research for the prevention and treatment of diseases as well as ensures effective responses to epidemics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the United States’ protection agency. The CDC fights diseases globally to save lives and protect Americans from health, safety and security threats.

At the simplest level, bilateral organizations are agencies and organizations from a single country that provide targeted aid to other countries. Developed countries are most armed with these helpful organizations to assist the world in times of crisis. These bilateral organizations have a large influence and are key to major developments in health and well-being around the world.

Brandi Gomez

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