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By Emeritus Professor Jon Altman
Anti-Poverty Week is a time when all Australians are encouraged to organise or take part in an activity aiming to highlight or overcome issues of poverty and hardship. This year it was held during the week 15 to 21 October 2017.
In Australia, data shows that by far the deepest poverty is found in the Northern Territory, where nearly 45 per cent of all Indigenous households are located below the poverty line. The greatest disparity between Indigenous and other households (nearly 35%) is also found in the NT.
How is it that such an extraordinarily high proportion of NT indigenous households (with an estimated Indigenous population of 74,509) experience poverty rates of such magnitude in a rich, first world nation like Australia?
Indigenous people in the NT today represent less than 10 per cent of the total Indigenous population and just 0.3 per cent of the total Australian population, but a significant 30 per cent of the NT population of 245,740. How has this situation come about? Wasn’t the NT Intervention 2007-2012 and its aftermath Stronger Futures from 2012 meant to normalise the situation and reduce such disparity? Is this the result of careless administration or a care-less political elite and wider society?
What is especially worrying is that when income levels are adjusted for inflation (of 10 per cent) between 2011 and 2016 the situation in the NT has deteriorated. Median personal income for Indigenous individuals declined from $296 to $281 per week. For other individuals that figure increased from $1018 to $1072. This means that the Indigenous to other ratio declined from 0.29 to 0.26.
In 2016, average Indigenous weekly income was just 26 per cent of the rate of other Territorians; conversely other Territorians earned nearly four times what Indigenous Territorians earned per week.
All these figures, indicative as they may be, suggest that the level of Indigenous poverty in the NT has increased in the last five years - it has become deeper and more entrenched.
Read the full article in Land Right News - Northern Edition p18.