Sociology and Anthropology Vol. 6(9), pp. 729 - 738
DOI: 10.13189/sa.2018.060905
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'Almost within Cooee': The Implications, for Sole-parent Families Living beyond Melbourne's Suburban Edge, of Long-term Poverty and 'Duty'-based Interventions


Tass Holmes *
School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville Melbourne, 3010, Victoria, Australia

ABSTRACT

Recognising and theorising poverty is a difficult task in Australia, which is among the world's wealthy nations. This paper describes incidental findings of contemporary Australian poverty experiences, mainly affecting sole parents, from a recent ethnographic research in 'Sephirah', a fictitious inner-rural Victorian community. The encompassing study investigated usage of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) by a group of low-income Australians, who were generally unable to afford to consult with professional non-biomedical health providers. Anthropological participative research methods enabled basic statistical representation of households in a poor area, and documentation of health practices and beliefs, while in-depth interview narratives described the participants' experiences of a 'poverty status'. In conjunction with financial hardship, perceived difficulties arose from structured forms of discrimination, primarily impacting sole parents and their children, as the poorest sub- group among those enmeshed in long-term poverty, and secondly, mentally ill persons. These impoverished community members, in rural towns beyond Melbourne's peripheral suburbs, had few employment and educational opportunities, and limited support services. They describe impacts of morally-informed policy and welfare enactments by government, churches, and the health system, based on an idealised discourse that attributes seemingly unnecessary and destructive interventions to a doctrine of 'duty-of-care'.

KEYWORDS
Anthropology, Australian Welfare Policy, Sole Parent Poverty, Child Protection, Mental Health, Human Rights, Rural Demographics

Cite this paper
Tass Holmes . "'Almost within Cooee': The Implications, for Sole-parent Families Living beyond Melbourne's Suburban Edge, of Long-term Poverty and 'Duty'-based Interventions." Sociology and Anthropology 6.9 (2018) 729 - 738. doi: 10.13189/sa.2018.060905.