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1 in 6 Australian kids live in poverty: report

SYDNEY--Child poverty in Australia is increasing despite the nation's booming mining wealth, a welfare group said Monday, with new data showing one in six children are now living below the poverty line.

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) said that children, particularly in single parent families, were among the groups in society most at risk of poverty.

About 17.3 percent of all children in Australia were estimated to be living below the internationally accepted poverty line used to measure financial hardship in wealthy countries according to ACOSS — up from 12 percent in 2005.

That compares with 23.1 percent in the United States, 14.9 percent in Japan and 12.1 percent in Britain according to United Nations data published in May, which had estimated Australia's child poverty rate at 10.9 percent.

Drawing the poverty line at incomes of 50 percent or less than the median income in the country, the ACOSS report found that as at 2010, one in eight people were surviving at that level of income or below.

“For a single person that works out to be about AU$18,000 (US$18,390) a year to cover all of your costs, including housing,” ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said.

“And most disturbingly we've got one in six children who are living in that circumstance.”

About 12.8 percent of the population of Australia, which dodged recession during the global financial crisis and boasts economic growth of 3.7 percent and low unemployment, is affected by poverty, the report found.

Goldie said those particularly at risk of sinking into poverty were those on unemployment and other benefits which have not kept pace with the cost of living.

“Whilst the overall community levels of income have been improving over time, people on those low fixed incomes have been seriously left behind,” she said.

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