Life beyond the cycle of welfare

St Vincent de Paul and ECU are investigating multi-generational poverty.
St Vincent de Paul and ECU are investigating multi-generational poverty.

Mr Fitzpatrick said in order to do that, the charity needed to look beyond providing crisis support.

‘Unfortunately, the number of people below the poverty line in Australia is growing and we have to do something different,’ he said.

‘We can continue to offer the services we provide but we will always be facing an uphill battle.

‘We need to put a circuit breaker in there, so that they don’t need to come to us, or get to them early so that they don’t have to come back.”

Mr Fitzpatrick said the charity was teaming up with ECU to investigate how to break multi-generational poverty to reduce the reliance on welfare and charities.

He said while families experiencing multi-generational welfare dependency was not high, there was evidence of it in WA.

‘If we can do something constructive to change that, it will position generations to aspire to, or put steps in place, to get out of that situation,’ he said.

‘If young people see a history all their life of welfare dependency then some of the things that you and I take for granted such as applying for a job or calling in sick are not handed down.

‘Next year, we will have been in WA for 150 years, in my utopia we won’t have to be in existence for the next 100.’

The project, led by professor Lelia Green and associate professor Panizza Allmark, is expected to start by the end of the year, following ethics approval, after it received a $150,000 Australian Research Council grant.

Up to 12 families will be a part of the research over three years, which aims to identify strategies that make lasting changes for children and families, who have experienced multi-generational welfare dependency. Prof Green said the strategies could then be used on a long-term basis by St Vincent de Paul Society and other charities.

‘The family as a whole will be supported with the aim of trying to make a difference to break free of the cycle of poverty,’ she said.

‘The idea is St Vincent de Paul Society will be using the project to develop their staff to continue the bits that are working, so that once the project ends, new skills and knowledge will be formed.’