How do Australian policymakers frame the causes of and policy solutions to poverty? A critical examination of Anti-Poverty Week parliamentary debates from 2012 to 2021

Philip Mendes, Steven Roche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In recent decades, poverty has increasingly been marginalised in Australian policy discourse. One strategy used by social justice advocates to revitalise a poverty policy agenda has been the annual Anti-Poverty Week campaign, which aims to stimulate community debate around policy innovations to relieve poverty. This paper analyses the Commonwealth parliamentary debates around Anti-Poverty Week for 10 years from 2012 to 2021. We analyse and compare how politicians from three political parties – the Liberal and National Party Coalition, the Australian Labor Party and The Australian Greens – identified the key statistics for and groups in poverty, their sources of evidence, the consequences of poverty for those affected, the causes of poverty including whether or not disadvantage was linked to wider structural inequities, and the framing of poverty and potential policy solutions. Some conclusions are drawn from these findings about potential strategies for reinvigorating the poverty debate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-606
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Anti-Poverty Week campaign
  • parliamentary debates
  • poverty
  • social justice advocacy

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