I have been speaking an awful lot about child poverty, lone parents and people living with disabilities in the two years in which I have been privileged enough to be in this position. They need the attention they would not have been given heretofore.
The national policy framework for children and young people, called Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, includes a target to reduce, by two thirds, the number of children living in consistent poverty by 2020. That was based on figures from 2012. Under the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures framework, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, in collaboration with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and other Departments, is taking a whole-of-government approach to tackling child poverty and also other forms of poverty. One Department will not be successful on its own. Meeting the target set means reducing the number of children in consistent poverty to 37,000 or fewer by 2020. The most recent available figures from the 2017 Survey of Income and Living Conditions, SILC, report show that there were, on average, 105,000 children still in consistent poverty at the end of 2017.
This 2017 figure is equivalent to 8.8% of children living in consistent poverty. It represents a significant reduction over preceding years, but it is still nowhere close to the original target. As unemployment decreases and the economy continues to grow, improvements in households occur. It also allows my Department and me to get a portion of the revenue generated by the improving economy to spend it on and direct it towards those most in need. As I said to the Deputy, they are children, particularly those living in lone-parent households. They also include those with disabilities. With the co-operation of this House, I have attempted to achieve this in the past two budgets. I hope and aspire to do exactly the same this year.