HOUSING costs may be the key problem forcing as many as 1.5 million Australians into entrenched poverty, a top community services figure said Tuesday.
A report from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia released on Tuesday showed 4-6% of all Australians, or 1-1.5 million people, were living in entrenched disadvantage.
CEDA chief executive Professor Stephen Martin described the situation as a national disgrace, given more than 20 years of domestic economic growth.
Many of those caught in poverty, he said, had "little to no hope of getting out of that situation", calling for a "radical overhaul" of how the nation tackles poverty.
Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said the group's research showed as many as 65,000 Australians were going without food for a whole day at least once a week.
But she said the key factor increasing and entrenching poverty was housing and rental costs, preventing many Australians from participating fully in work, education or addressing their health issues.
"We find rents may be lower in some regional areas compared to Sydney; but when you're on the minimum wage, almost all rents in regional and rural Australia are still too high for those people," she said.
"The only places rents are affordable are places where there are no jobs, and in regional areas, the cost of living and lack of services just makes it that much harder."
"Housing is not a discretionary item, and there are people out there going without food, clothes and education to pay the rent."
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