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Governments must act as hunger grows in WA

The Australian Greens said today that the growing levels of hunger in Western Australian were a stark reminder of the need for State and Federal Governments to work together to address the underlying causes of poverty and inequality.

"Foodbank's annual report shows that there has been an increase in demand for food relief in the past year, and that on average more than 8,800 people, half of them children, are being turned away each month. " Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.

"This report puts paid to the Federal Government's claims that demand for emergency relief is going down. Demand is increasing, even without their cruel budget measures coming into effect.

"If Tony Abbott gets his budget cuts through the Parliament demand for emergency relief will go even higher. The Government has admitted that they expect 500,000 applications for emergency relief over the next four years, just from the impact of their plan to make job seekers aged under 30 live without income support for six months at a time.

"Combined with other proposed budget measures, including cuts to pensions and family payments, it is inevitable that more people and more children will be turned away when they ask for help.

"The Government knows there are deep inadequacies within our income support system, which sees high proportions of single parent families, and jobseekers on inadequate payments like Newstart and Youth Allowance living in poverty. Rather than working to address the inadequacy of payments they are cutting more holes in our social safety net.

"State and Federal Government need to work collectively to address the underlying causes of poverty, they cannot rely on a trickle-down effect, hoping that their commitment to looking after the big end of town will end up helping the poorest people in our community. National and international evidence shows us otherwise, we know this does not occur.

"We need a focus on investments in affordable and social housing, an immediate increase in Newstart and Youth Allowance, increase access to quality food, more affordable and accessible public transport and a focus on a workforce strategy to drive participation and transition into employment.

"There must be a focus on helping families and children. Early childhood education is a key to a child's life outcomes, but when children are hungry and their parents can't get the support they need, we are setting up the next generation to grow up living in poverty," Senator Siewert concluded.

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