Crisis is still hurting poor

Long-term: The 2008 global financial crisis still effects many disadvantaged Australians. Photo: Mario Borg
Long-term: The 2008 global financial crisis still effects many disadvantaged Australians. Photo: Mario Borg

The fallout from the global financial meltdown continues to reverberate, with Australia's most disadvantaged experiencing a rise in social problems since the crisis began in 2008.

Comprehensive research on disadvantage, produced by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Melbourne Institute, points to a noticeable increase in social exclusion with the worst affected found to be public housing tenants.

The research, released to The Sun-Herald, measures disadvantage and exclusion through 30 factors, not just income. They include education, health, isolation, disability and personal safety.

About 5 per cent of Australians were in situations of entrenched disadvantage in 2011 and classed as ''deeply excluded'' while, overall, about a quarter of Australians were excluded, or regarded as not participating fully in society.

Researcher Francisco Azpitarte said the financial crisis was still being felt.

''When you look at the trend of unemployment you see in 2008 not a big, but important, shock in terms of unemployment,'' Dr Azpitarte said.

While the crisis was more severe elsewhere, unemployment rose from 4 per cent in early 2008 to nearly 6 per cent by mid-2009. It remains much higher than before the crisis.

That could explain the problems faced by those in public housing, Dr Azpitarte said. Of these, most affected were those in insecure or casual work.

Public housing is targeted at the most disadvantaged, many of whom are on welfare, in poor health and have low levels of education.

The research, released before anti-poverty week, shows women are more likely to face social exclusion than men while people who have not finished year 12 are nearly 2½ times more likely to experience it.

About half of those who are aged over 65, have a disability, long-term health problems or are indigenous experience exclusion. Dr Azpitarte said the overall decline in social exclusion in the early 2000s was relatively modest considering the economic boom at the time.

Paul Smyth, general manager at the Brotherhood's Research and Policy Centre, said many could successfully emerge from a period of low or little income but for others the task appeared overwhelming.

Professor Smyth said the brotherhood's research showed the worst off, the ''deeply excluded'', showed little mobility and that a broad response was needed.

This story Crisis is still hurting poor first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.