Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

Woman-thoughtful

A recent report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) shows that 13 per cent of Australians are living below the poverty line. Large pockets of disadvantage still exist across Australia despite 26 years of uninterrupted economic growth.

CEDA's CEO, Melinda Cilento, will discuss the new report -How unequal? Insights into inequality at the next Hunter Economic breakfast in Newcastle. The CEDA research characterises the economic and social effects of growing levels of inequality in Australia.

The HRF Centre will explore some of these effects in the local economy at the breakfast. We will use available Census data and our own in-house data to analyse how the Hunter is tracking against other regions in terms of economic disadvantage and well-being. What is happening in our towns and suburbs? Where in the Hunter are disadvantage and its impacts greatest?

The CEDA report also highlights the challenges that Australia will face in the future. How do we address housing affordability? How do we upskill and transition workers in the face of unprecedented technological change? The HRF Centre will consider the future of employment and training in a Hunter context. How well prepared is our workforce to face growing global competition?

A panel of expert authors contributed to the CEDA report. They provide insights on measures of inequality and the social impact of such inequality. As of 2014, Australia was slightly above the average among developed countries in terms of income inequality, noted the CEDA report. Other key indicators include educational opportunities, gender pay disparities and post-code disadvantage.

The evidence shows that widening inequality comes at a high cost to Australia. The costs include foregone earning potential and productivity gains. For instance, persistent disparities in educational attainment, according to CEDA author Associate Professor Laura Perry at Murdoch University, mean that 17 per cent of Australian young people leave secondary school without achieving basic educational skill levels. She says: “Eliminating school underperformance would reap enough fiscal benefits to pay for the country’s entire school system”.

Also at the economic breakfast is one of Australia’s foremost social researchers - Hugh Mackay. He will offer views on why Australia’s economic growth is failing to deliver a more stable and harmonious society. Twenty-five years after the publication of his landmark social study, Reinventing Australia, Mackay’s new book, Australia Reimagined, offers compelling proposals for a more compassionate and socially cohesive Australia.

Find out more about the costs of inequality for the Hunter and for your business, or register for the Hunter economic breakfast. 

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