Addressing the situation of the poor in Australia, let alone around the rest of both the civilized and developing world, can be quite a difficult to task. Indeed, people being poor is often a self-perpetuating cycle but it is also caused by income inequality and other socioeconomic factors that most people have little to no power to control. However, there are solutions and ways to improve one's life for those that have the motivation and willingness to do so. However, it also requires a company and people behind said company that are willing to take less profit than they could so as to truly help the poor rather than take advantage of them while they are down. While some companies like pay-day loan companies and the like just want to make a profit from the challenges of the poor, companies like Acme Financial Services will make a little profit but will largely help the poor move past their temporary challenges and/or break the bad habits and cycles that place and keep them in poverty.
Many people are quick to assail and impugn the poor as lazy but that is usually far from the truth in one or more ways. While some of the poor are indeed guilty of making egregiously bad decisions including doing so over time, there is also a pervasive amount of income inequality and wealth inequality. These two conditions are not only issues in Australia but also around the rest of the civilized world as made clear in the first appendix. There are also some demographics subsets like single mothers and the disabled that are more prone to be poor than others. These statistics alone prove that the plight of the poor is largely something that is not of their own making and it is something that is getting worse and worse. However, the answer from many in the private sector is to profit and pillage the poor. Pay-day loan companies and the like around the world charge exorbitant interest rates to the poor and otherwise take advantage. While it is true that there is a higher risk in lending and otherwise providing services to the poor due to their unwillingness and/or inability to pay, there is a not-so-fine line between helping the poor while still making some profits and committing an overt money-grab.
The world of scholarly research proves the above and more. One study found that both partnered and single mothers have significant mental health challenges. The implications that this presents when talking about financial hardship and social support are obvious as mothers with mental health issues are less likely to be able to keep and hold a job and this impacts their ability to afford quality mental health services. This creates a vicious cycle whereby mental health needs require money and lack of money leads to untreated mental health issues. The range of factors and effects involved with this nasty little cycle include lack of social support, unemployment, financial hardship, the consequences rendered by divorce and separation and general socioeconomic disadvantages. The married vs. non-married dynamic alone is problematic as women that are partnered experience a mental health issue just over half as much as single mothers, at rates of 23.6% and 45%, respectively (Crosier, Butterworth & Rodgers, 2007, pp. 6-7).
The aforementioned income distribution debacle is also a major source of concern. However, defining poverty and the causes of the same is something that many people that are not focused on poverty as a source of income distribution seize on. Add on the fact that lifestyle habits, educational performance and work habits can obviously have a major cause and effect relationship with poverty performance, many people point to bad choices leading to bad effects. There is some truth to this but the fact that bad education and bad life choices are happening on such a wide scale. However, the rich and government policies are not adequately addressing the problems of the poor. Since there is only so much any one business or person can do to address the governmental failures, it requires upstanding people and businesses to offer assistance and help to the poor without just being in the service for the money (Saunders & Bradbury, 2006, pp. 341-342).
A huge part of not making ghastly financial decisions in life is assisting in financial literacy. While this may seem basic to many people, the financial decisions and outcomes that many are exposed to leave little good lessons and examples for the poor and thus the cycle of bad choices and outcomes is perpetuated and repeated. This is especially true and unfortunate all at the same time for Indigenous Australians. They typically have lack of access to quality financial services and their levels of financial literacy are often very poor compared to other demographic groups in Australia (Gerrans, Clark-Murphy & Truscott, 2009, pp. 417-418). Whether it be indigenous Australians or other demographic groups, the whole credo and saying about "a fool and his money will soon be parted" is true more often than it is not. One major trend that is impossible to ignore, however, is the fact that 18- to 25-year-olds in Australia are nearly one half of the bottom quarter of income levels in Australia. While that does make a lot of sense in that many of the older people in Australia are more educated and experience and thus their earning power will be higher. However, the proportion of the young that are poor is entirely too high and speaks to the fact that the younger people of Australia are more likely to be grossly misinformed or uninformed when it comes to financial literacy and best financial practices (Manuel & Morony, 2011, pp 33-34).
Another nasty effect of having the poor present at such high levels in the Australian economy is that low wealth means low consumption. Even when there is an infusion of cash in the form of housing subsidies and governmental assistance payments for childcare and food, the level of economic output garnered from the poor remains stubbornly low. This causes a net drag due to the investment in the poor from the government not translating to the economic output of the country in efficient enough levels. The provocative question is how to create an economic tide that lifts all proverbial boats while at the same time not encouraging and perpetuating the same bad behavior that has led to the conditions in the first place (Heady, 2008, pp 23-39). Indeed, government assistance is seen by many as a panacea but it is seen as just a "Band-Aid" by others as the economic activity that is gained from supporting the poor is artificial at best and is not created by raw economic activity (Jacobs et al., 2007, pp 901-919).
There is no easy answer to how to help the poor as fixing the problem will take a long and protracted approach vs. A "quick fix." Government assistance as well as morally-based support from the private sector will pay huge dividends in the short run but a long-lasting teaching and personal improvement campaign will be necessary to help the poor as the rich and businesses will almost always just take what they can rather than ceding some ground to the less fortunate and less proactive.
Want to help the poor? Wish to assist those with little luck and less resources? Had some tough luck as of late? Tired of businesses and people not helping the poor or taking advantage of them?
Here is how you can help
Offer career coaching and advice
Donate money and time for vocational and college training
Offer low-cost loans for temporary financial relief
Housing Assistance and Subsidies
Crosier, T, Butterworth, P, & Rodgers, B 2007, 'Mental health…