Abstract from Prof Peter Saunders's Guest Lecture presented at the Treasury on 17 July 2007.
Prof Peter Saunders
Australian Professorial Fellow, University of New South Wales
Research interests include the measurement, causes and consequences of poverty; budget standards and household needs; income distribution and economic inequality; economic aspects of social security; social policy and the welfare state; comparative social policy, including in OECD and East Asian countries; public finance, including taxation policy and the role of government in the economy; international comparisons of government size and economic performance.
- Saunders, P. (2005), The Poverty Wars: Reconnecting Research with Reality, UNSW Press.
- Saunders, P., (ed) (2005), Welfare to Work in Practice. Social Security and Participation in Economic and Social Life, International Studies on Social Security, Volume 10, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2005.
- Saunders, P. and J. Walter, (eds) (2005), Ideas and Influence. Social Science and Public Policy in Australia.
- Saunders, Peter and Richard Taylor, eds. (2002) The Price of Prosperity: The Economic and Social Costs of Unemployment
The problematic nature of using income as a proxy for poverty is widely acknowledged amongst Australian poverty researchers. There is lack of agreement on setting an income poverty line and a failure to include the complexity of the factors in addition to income that contribute to the multi-dimensional nature of poverty. This paper presents findings from the first comprehensive Australian study that seeks to identify what constitutes material deprivation and social exclusion as a way of developing new indictors of poverty and disadvantage. The basic premise for the study is that poverty is not just defined by low income, but is multi-dimensional and its measurement must be grounded in the actual living standards and experiences of poor people. The findings are based on two surveys, one of the general population, the other of welfare service users, that explore community understandings of, and attitudes to different dimensions of deprivation, social exclusion and poverty. The project was conducted in collaboration with several of Australia’s leading welfare agencies, including ACOSS, Mission Australia, The Brotherhood of St Laurence and Anglicare, Sydney.