Caring well for disadvantaged people in Australia is an aspiration that is yet to be fully realised.
Disadvantage stems from a complex interaction of many factors in our society and the physical environments in which we live. Poverty, unemployment, poor health, social exclusion, high rates of imprisonment and abuse are all indictors of disadvantage.
For many families and communities, disadvantage has become an entrenched cycle that passes from generation to generation. Social stigmas and low expectations become self-fulfilling prophesies. There are also those who have become disadvantaged by extreme circumstances – where they’ve suffered a life changing hardship and can’t get back on their feet.
And while all people who are disadvantaged are citizens, their rights to things such as employment opportunity, housing, healthcare and self-determination are recognised through Australian law and international treaties, we are some distance from realising these rights.
Reducing inequality across Australian society will require more than individualised support. It will also require social change.