Mission Australia are running a “Chugger” (“charity mugger”) funding campaign on the streets of Australia.
Young backpackers in purple T-shirts are pestering passers by with statistics about child poverty.
Where is the child poverty they are trying to reduce? Africa? Asia? South America?
No really, according to Mission Australia, one in six Australian children are living in poverty.
Does that pass the sniff test? If you live in or have ever visited Australia, have you ever seen extreme poverty to that level?
No? Perhaps you didn’t visit the right locations. After all, poor people don’t tend to live in the apartments overlooking the Opera House, one supposes.
But one in six is still a lot of kids, where might they all be living if they aren’t immediately obvious to people in the main population centres?
Ah, perhaps the statistic is due to terrible poverty and deprivation in the Aboriginal townships?
Well, maybe but given that only 3.3% of the population is Aboriginal, that doesn’t make sense either.
Where are all these Aussie kids who are living in poverty then? There’s got to be a small city’s worth hiding in plain sight.
This is just a working hypothesis, but maybe there’s a clue to be found in the definition of the word “poverty”.
How is “poverty” defined in the Acoss study?
So, poverty is defined as relative to other people, and before receipt of public housing, tax credits, unemployment benefits, Medicare and free schooling.
Of course, when your definition of poverty is based on what everyone else is earning, it’s hardly surprising that statements such as the one above, “Internationally, Australia’s poverty rate remains above the OECD average, despite our relative prosperity” can be written without a hint of irony.
Relative poverty isn’t poverty, it’s envy.
Anyone who has visited Africa, Asia or South America can tell you what child poverty looks like and it certainly isn’t what Mission Australia claims it is.
I find it highly unlikely that Acoss or Mission Australia were unaware of the statistical obfuscation they had to commit to print T-shirts claiming one in six Australian children live in poverty.
What might their motivation be for such mendacity, do we think?