When we think of the causes of poverty, it can be easy to blame a lack of sufficient income or inadequate education without examining the root causes. It’s clear, however, that within society, deep-rooted inequalities pertaining to race, sex, ability, religion and geography limit an individual's ability to access work and income, education, housing, health and services.
To win the fight against poverty, the world first needs to address these inequalities and create a just society for all.
Thankfully, in every country across the globe, activists, celebrities, politicians and everyday citizens are on a mission to end bigotry, discrimination and xenophobia in all forms.
Below, we've compiled a list of some of Australia's most well-known names who are fighting against LGBTQ+ hate, disability exclusion, gender inequality and discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
1. Dylan Alcott
Alcott, a Paralympic gold medal winner, TV personality and basketball wheelchair athlete, has long advocated for Australians living with disabilities to be given equal opportunities. After being born with a tumour around his spinal cord that subsequently left him without the use of his legs, Alcott had dedicated his life to showing that people with disabilities can be funny, talented and creative.
One in six people with a disability live in poverty in Australia, against 1 in 10 Australians without a disability.
According to the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, the leading causes of poverty among Australians with disabilities is a lack of suitable employment that stems from limited accessibility, inadequate income support payments and high housing costs.
2. Flex Mami
As a content creator and podcast host, Mami uses her voice and platform to bring topics like identity, intersectionality and mental health to mainstream audiences. She’s also the CEO and founder of card game ReFlex, which works to encourage deep conversations with friends and family.
Around 20% of Australians live with some form of mental illness. Among the poorest one-fifth of Australians, 1 in 4 individuals live with psychological distress at a high or very high level, against 1 in 20 among the wealthiest 20% of Australians.
3. Mitch Tambo
Tambo is a singer, songwriter, Indigenous activist and the host of Tambo Talk. In this Facebook Live program, Tambo interviews a range of musicians and activists about identity, diversity, inclusion, culture and Indigenous issues. In 2019, Tambo released a version of the classic song You're The Voice in English and Gamilaraay — his traditional tongue. The song was sung alongside John Farnham at the finale of Fire Fight Australia concert for national bushfire relief.
4. Courtney Act
Act — an Australian drag queen, TV presenter and entertainer — is renowned for sparking conversations on sexuality and gender when speaking to conservative journalists and other media personalities. After hosting the United Kingdom’s first bisexual dating show, Act made history by forming the first same-sex couple in Dancing with the Stars.
A 2015 report by the New South Wales (NSW) Council of Social Service showed that LGBTQ+ individuals in NSW endure greater levels of disadvantage than other citizens, putting them at greater risk of falling into poverty.
“The report shows is there are specific factors, such as discrimination, which place LGBTI people at-risk of disadvantage and poverty and which can exacerbate it,” NCOSS Deputy CEO John Mikelsons explained. “The disadvantage is often marked by spells of unemployment, workplace discrimination and salary gaps, in spite of evidence of higher levels of education.”
5. Taylah Gray
Gray, a proud Wiradjuri woman, lawyer and PhD candidate, has long been a prominent voice in the movement advocating for the rights of First Nations people. Last year, Gray fronted the NSW Supreme Court to represent the Newcastle Black Lives Matter protest after a court order to silence the demonstration was handed down by NSW police.
Indigenous Australians make up just 2% of the population yet account for 27% of the national prison population.
A Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody stated the high rates of Aboriginal deaths in custody were directly linked to underlying circumstances of poor health and housing, limited employment and education levels, "dysfunctional" families, dispossession and past government policies.
"The most significant contributing factor bringing Aboriginal people into conflict with the criminal justice system was their disadvantaged and unequal position in the wider society,” the report concluded.
6. Nas Campanella
As the ABC’s disability affairs reporter, Campanella is a big advocate for disability access and inclusion. Alongside her work as a journalist, Campanella also works alongside the ABC International Development department to form initiatives that help people living with disabilities throughout the Pacific.
7. Khadija Gbla
Gbla is a Sierra Leone-born survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence — as well as an activist and model. Gbla says her culturally and linguistically diverse background inspired her to amplify the voices of Australian women who may experience multiple forms of oppression and led her to establish No FGM Australia, a non-government organisation providing cultural competency training for medical staff and students and social workers.
Currently, FGM is criminalised throughout Australia, as well as being prohibited for Australian residents living overseas.
Still, an estimated 53,000 women live with FGM in Australia.