Poverty strikes families

Tracy Howe

Tracy Howe

Almost 9000 children in the Riverina and Murrumbidgee are living below the poverty line.

This startling statistic is part of a detailed pre-budget submission by peak welfare body the NSW Council of Social Service.

It says that 16 per cent of children in this region live in such circumstances, or an estimated 8679.

The figure is similar to other areas right across NSW, with figures ranging from around 14 to 22 per cent.

The council says this number is indicative of the need for the state government to better target funding.

To back-up its wish for more money for early childhood education, it cites its own cost-of-living survey from April in which 14 per cent of respondents nominated “giving children the best start in life” as high on the priority list.

The council wants the government to allocate $250 million in the 2018/19 budget to an early childhood education investment fund.

Chief executive Tracy Howe said in the submission how the council had spent three years touring the state, including the Albury region, to formulate its wish-list.

Ms Howe said that included speaking to individuals and families “doing it tough” below the poverty line.

Several of her own conclusions reflect stated positions by Border welfare leaders on the need for a community response to the critical issue of homelessness.

“We need place-based solutions that are grounded in communities. Communities need to be empowered and resourced to execute their solutions, bringing together and leveraging cross-sectoral and collaborative partnerships.”

Ms Howe said that “too often” regional NSW was falling behind.