Cost of living crisis pushing Aussie kids onto the street


WA’s economy might be the strongest in the nation, but those riches are making little difference to thousands of children going without food and health care across the state.

As the state budget recorded a surplus of $4.2b this month, the latest government snapshot of children in WA was released, revealing that more than 100,000 children and young people were living under the poverty line.

In that report, state commissioner for children and young people Jacqueline McGowan-Jones found that there was a stark contrast in the rates of poverty between the Pilbara and the city.

“Analysis by National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) in 2015–16 estimated that 69.7 per cent of children and young people in the East Pilbara were living in poverty compared to 3.3 per cent of children and young people in the Perth suburb of City Beach,” the report says.

Campaign group Valuing Children director Professor Tony Pietropiccolo said that in a nation as rich as Australia the numbers were disgraceful.

“A record actual number of 28,948 children [nation-wide] under the age of 18 were homeless on census night in 2021, or one fifth of the total homeless population,” Prof Pietropiccolo says.

Poverty is one of the leading causes of homelessness.

Prof Pietropiccolo says in WA, 29 children who attended primary school were sleeping on the streets across the nation on census night.

“The rate of child poverty in WA has been steadily rising, and WA now has the third-highest poverty rate in Australia.”

“This raises a significant moral question – on what grounds can leaving children in poverty be justified?,” he told an April Federal parliament committee meeting.

The minister for child protection did not respond to questions on this issue.

Prof Pietropiccolo says the real data would likely show a worse problem with higher rates the census night numbers are old.

He blames WA’s rental crisis as being the leading cause of people sleeping rough.

“Family and domestic violence is currently the biggest cause of homelessness and that is one measure of poverty in the state,” he said.

He says that children raised in poverty face life-long mental health, education and employability issues.