In recent decades the benefits of strong economic growth have flown disproportionately to the rich and economic inequality is growing rapidly in Australia. This is not only unfair it also poses threats to community wellbeing, health, social stability, sustainable growth and long-term prosperity.
Source: ABS, Household Income and Income Distribution, Australia, 2011-12
As the graph illustrates, extreme financial inequality exists in Australia and research indicates it is increasing. We need to generate a national conversation about the type of community we want.
Australia21, in collaboration with the Australia Institute, held a multidisciplinary roundtable of stakeholders and experts at Parliament House Canberra on 31 January 2014 to explore this question:
Invitees included relevant researchers, economists, retired and current politicians, state and federal government advisers, peak social welfare bodies and representatives of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, The Australia Institute and the recently formed Australian Social Determinants of Health Alliance. They considered data on current Australian inequalities, current Australian knowledge on these matters as well as the necessary elements of an ongoing research investigation involving state governments, research institutions, economists and senior policymakers.
This project was supported by the Reichstein Foundation, the Social Justice Fund and the ACT Government.
Bob Douglas, leader of the inequality project at the roundtable
A discussion paper, Unfair economic arrangements make us sick How should Australia respond to the expanding financial inequities among its citizens? released on 30 December 2013 provided background for the roundtable. Written by Sharon Friel, Professor of Health Equity at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU and Richard Denniss, Executive Director of The Australia Institute. Click on the title for a free download.
The report of the roundtable, Advance Australia Fair? What to do about growing inequality in Australia by Bob Douglas, Sharon Friel, Richard Denniss and David Morawetz identified 10 ways to ‘Advance Australia Fair. It is available for free download or purchase of a hard copy.
Please have a look at our short whiteboard videos on inequality, based on our report.
Inequality in Australia
Why inequality matters
Addressing inequality in Australia