UNSW and ACOSS join forces to tackle poverty and inequality

UNSW and the Australian Council of Social Service have launched a new collaboration to tackle poverty and inequality through high-quality research, policy development and advocacy.

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Photo: Shutterstock

UNSW Sydney and the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) will work to tackle poverty and equality head on through a new collaboration launched on Thursday.

The collaboration includes backing from UNSW, various ACOSS member organisations and philanthropists to the value of $2 million over five years.

Although well-being is high, the latest OECD Economic Survey of Australia 2017 reports unequivocally that inequality has risen in Australia.

The struggle to afford basic daily needs is a serious problem for many people in Australia despite being a wealthy country. Nearly 3 million people live below the internationally accepted poverty line, of which 731,000 are children.

The interdisciplinary collaboration aims to focus national attention on poverty and inequality through high-quality research, policy development and advocacy to effect change. The partnership will monitor trends in poverty and inequality over time, explore drivers, and develop solutions to sharpen the focus and stimulate action to tackle these entrenched societal problems.

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Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO, and Professor Peter Saunders, from the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW, will work together to tackle poverty and inequality through the new collaboration.

Professor Peter Saunders, Research Professor in Social Policy at UNSW’s Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC), believes the collaboration will draw on the strengths of both organisations to facilitate change to policy and practice.

“This initiative provides a unique and exciting opportunity to combine UNSW’s research expertise with the practical insights and policy connections that ACOSS will bring to the table,” he says.

Dr Cassandra Goldie, Chief Executive Officer of ACOSS, is delighted that the partnership will enable monitoring of poverty and inequality trends and spur action to improve living standards and narrow the gap in income and wealth between the richest and poorest in Australia.

“This collaboration between ACOSS and UNSW will sharpen national attention on poverty and inequality in Australia – arguably the most urgent challenges we face. We will work together to translate our research into action, working with a strong network of academics, community organisations and advocates to develop new and innovative policy proposals.”

Professor Ian Jacobs, UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor, says the partnership is in line with UNSW Sydney’s commitment to social justice.

“The social justice aspirations and rights of Australians are a high priority of the 2025 Strategy at UNSW Sydney. Together with ACOSS, we hope to contribute research, analysis and advocacy that will lead to a greater understanding of marginalised and disadvantaged people in our community. Through this partnership we will influence policy and practice across the sector.”