As the nation has spent the past 24 hours with our gaze fixed squarely on Rome, and the canonisation of a woman who dedicated her life to fighting poverty, it’s worth considering some painful truths closer to home.

Here are some pertinent numbers from new research just released by the Salvation Army in a report entitled Perceptions of Poverty:

  • 2 million Australians now live in poverty — 1 in 10 of us
  • 70% of poor children in Australia live in jobless families
  • Australia now has one of the highest levels of joblessness among families with children in an OECD country
  • 12% of all children aged 0 to 17 live in ‘relative poverty’
  • At least 80,000 Australians needed the Salvation Army’s help for the first time last year
  • 57% of single parent families interviewed said they could not pay utility bills in the past 12 months and 12% went without meals.

Welcome to a new emerging group of people getting bigger — the working poor.

Time to ask ourselves some hard questions about the aftermath of the economic downturn and the people who’ve fallen through the cracks.

****

Guy Rundle has landed. In the US, that is. In today’s edition of Crikey our roving correspondent kicks off his coverage of the US 2010 midterms — from Newark, New Jersey. And how times have changed. Less than two years into the Obama era, and the President and his party are facing a massacre. Hang on tight as Rundle covers all the gory details right up until November 2.

Peter Fray

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