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30 December 2013

Australia21 discussion paper on inequality released today




"...In the final analysis, the rich must not ignore the poor because both rich and poor are tied in a single garment of destiny.  All life is interrelated, and all men are interdependent.  The agony of the poor diminishes the rich, and the salvation of the poor enlarges the rich..."
                                                                Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Prize Lecture, 1964 

How a society runs its financial affairs influences the daily living conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These in turn affect how we feel, behave and engage on a day to day basis, the long term stress we experience, and our suffering of acute and chronic disease and ultimately death. At the same time the wellbeing of a nation influences its productive capacity and therefore its economic stability. In recent decades Australia has experienced widening inequalities in wealth and has not been delivering for some of its citizens even though GDP on the whole has been increasing. 

According to leading international and national economists financial inequality is one of the biggest social, economic and political challenges of our time.  

Australia21, with the Australia Institute, has responded to this challenge by envisaging a major project on the impact of inequality in Australia. Funding has been made available through the Social Justice Fund, the Reichstein Foundation and the ACT Government for the first stage which comprises a multidisciplinary roundtable of experts, drawn from across the economic, social and political fields, who will meet at Parliament House in Canberra in late January. The report from this roundtable will be available later in 2014.

The discussion paper
Released today,  Unfair economic arrangements make us sick  How should Australia respond to the expanding financial inequities among its citizens is a stand alone document which is also background for the roundtable. Written by Sharon Friel, Professor of Health Equity at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU and Dr Richard Denniss, Executive Director of The Australia Institute, it is available for  free download by clicking on the title above.
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