The idea of poverty and hunger in Australia is quite a contentious issue. There is no doubt that there is hunger -- most in Aboriginal communities. However, Australian politicians argue that relative measures of wealth and poverty are meaningless and hide the abject conditions of many Australians. Statistics also show that 13% of Australians live in poverty, 3% of Australia's children. It is not so much that the poor as a class is growing, but rather than becoming poorer in absolute terms and really becoming more numerous (Cenus of Population and Housing Characteristics, 2002). In fact, the 2007 UNICEFF report on child poverty found that Australia had the 14th highest rate of child poverty and hunger (An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries, 2007).
Recommendations -- Clearly, the situation in Australia, much like Europe and the United States, is not one of availability of food, but of distribution and access to food. Australia does not need foreign aid, there is abundant food in the marketplace; Australia does not need foreign capital to feed its children, there is abundant taxable funding available as well. What is needed, at least from a public health prospective is a two pronged approach: 1) the problem must be acknowledged and taken seriously by Australian politicians and society -- not ignored or trivialized, 2) a concerted effort must be made to root out those who have inadequate means of providing food to their children. This could be as easy as funding school breakfast programs as well as lunch programs 30 to 60 minutes prior to class. It could also be as complicated as assigning additional social and health workers to monitor areas that are particularly suffering to set up evening soup kitchens or other communal ways of distributing the wealth. These, of course, are short-term solutions designed simply to get food into the mouths of the hungry. Longer term solutions need to be focused on sustainability and equalization of resources -- and finding ways to distribute needed resources from the urban areas into some of the poorer aboriginal areas (No Aussie Child Should Live in Poverty, 2004).
Conclusions -- How can the developed countries expect globalism to work if they cannot feed their own children? This question is being asked by both liberals and conservatives in many governments. Indeed, what is the point of developing more and more armaments if we are moving towards a world in which 8-10% of the children either die from malnutrition or cannot learn basic skills because they are hungry? Clearly, this is not an isolated issue, but a global epidemic that must be elevated to the highest levels before it spirals out of control.
An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries. (2007, January). Retrieved August 2010, from Unicef-irc.org: www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc7_eng.pdf
Australia's Public Health Infrastructure. (2010, January). Retrieved August 2010, from Vic.Gov.au: http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/nphp/publications/broch/sectn003.htm
Campbell, C. (2007). Children At Risk. Childhood Education, 83(3), 189+.
Census of Population and Housing Characteristics. (2002, June 17). Retrieved August 2010, from Australian Bureau of Statistics: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/ProductsbyTopic/1EA78AFE3DE2EDCACA256BDA0073EB53?OpenDocument
Florence, Asbridge, and Veugelers. (2008). Diet Quality and Academic Performance. Journal of School Health, 78(4), 209+.
Foodbank - An Australia Without Hunger. (2010, January). Retrieved August 2010, from Foodbank.com: http://www.foodbank.com.au/default.asp?id=1,134,,115
(2005). Healthy Children - Strenghtening Promotion and Prevention Across Australia. Melbourne: National Public Health Partnership.
The Hunger Project- Australia. (2010, January). Retrieved August 2010, from Thp.org: http://www.thp.org.au/THP_AU_Site/FAQs.html
Hill, R. (2002). The Poverty Taboo in Austalia. Arena, 43(3), 3-11.
Horibe, F. (2001). Creating the Innovation Culture. New York: John Wiley.
Lewis, M. (2003). The People's Health: Public Health in Australia, 1950 to the Present. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Lin, Smith, Fawkes, Robinson and Chaplin. (2007). Public Health Practice in Australia: The Organized Effort. New York: Allen & Unwin.
No Aussie Child Should Live in Poverty. (2004, June 24). Retrieved August 2010, from ABC News: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2004/06/24/1139422.htm
Thurow and Kilman. (2009). Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve. New York: Public Affairs Press.
For more information on these films that deal directly with the subject of Australian children at risk, see the review article in:…