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Comparing poverty in Oz and PNG


MORRISET - A recent report by ACOSS [the Australian Council of Social Service] and the University of NSW highlighted the rates of poverty in Australia, particularly for children.

Two years ago the Asia Development Bank and the Borgen Institute produced a similar report for Papua New Guinea.

I in no way wish to diminish the work of ACOSS but I think it is important to put things into perspective by making a comparison to our nearest neighbour in PNG.

The poverty line in Australia is set at 50% of the median household disposable income. That’s around $433 a week for a single adult and $909 a week for a couple with two children.

School attendance rates in Australia average 92% (82% for indigenous children) and public schools are free.

More than 13% of Australia's population – that is about 3.2 million people - live below the poverty line, according to the report.

About 774,000 children under 15 (17.7% of Australian children) live in poverty.

The infant mortality rate is 4.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Meanwhile in Papua New Guinea….

An estimated 40% of Papua New Guineans live below the poverty line, which was established by the Asian Development Bank at $9 a week.

PNG has fewer than 400 doctors, with an estimated 51 of these working outside Port Moresby. Similarly, there is a shortage of nurses, with recent figures suggesting only one nurse per 2,270 people.

An estimated 25% of children are unable to attend school, with current figures suggesting 600,000 children do not receive an education. School attendance rates average below 75% and schools are fee paying.

Only seven percent of Papua New Guineans have access to both electricity grid and properly treated water.

The infant mortality rate for Papua New Guinea is 41.4 deaths per 1,000 live births.

That’s quite a comparison.

Sources: 'Causes of Poverty in Papua New Guinea', Borgen Magazine. 'Set up for failure': Almost 18 per cent of Australian children in poverty, by Judith Ireland, Sydney Morning Herald.


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