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Australia

Australia

Summary

The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 from six colonies. Economic reforms in 1980 allowed the country to become competitive in the international economic sector. The government has faced scrutiny for discrimination in the justice system against indigenous peoples and for poor protection of children. 3 million people in Australia live below the poverty line. The government also reportedly sends asylum seekers and refugees to nearby Nauru and Manus Islands’ refugee camps, which are not sufficiently supplied to provide for the numbers of refugees they host.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/as.html

Demographics

Nationality
Australian
Population
22,262,501 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Australia Subcases

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Australia’s environment is vulnerable to the introduction of invasive plants and animals. In recent years the temperate zones and coastal regions have had their biodiversity drastically altered. Deforestation and overgrazing are contributing to the increase in desertification and the destruction of animals’ natural habitats. Water scarcity is becoming an issue for Australia.1 In a recent study done by the United Nations, Australia was ranked with a high human development score and an extremely low score for climate change progress.2 In 2017, Australia’s carbon pollution was increasing significantly; it increased by 1.6 percent in the March quarter alone.3

Family

Domestic abuse against women is a significant problem in the country. The government estimates that since 2014 one woman dies each week due to domestic violence. Across the entire country of Australia, one woman is hospitalized due to injuries sustained from domestic violence every three hours.1 One in four women report experiencing violence at some point in their lives, which totals around 1.5 million women.2

Human Rights

Australia faces international pressure to better receive refugees. The government currently pays islands off its coast, like Nauru and Manus Island, to take disproportionate amounts of refugees and put them into refugee camps. There are also issues with discrimination against indigenous peoples, especially in the justice system.1 Indigenous peoples were reportedly 24 times more likely to be incarcerated. The age for criminal liability is 10 years old, extremely low according to international standards..2 Additionally, Australia has been reluctant to call attention to countries that are committing human rights abuses if they have strong economic ties with them.3

Education

Each of the eight states or territories in Australia is responsible for their own education system. 1 This divided responsibility for school systems makes the implementation of federal education reforms difficult.2 There is a large discrepancy in performance between Aboriginal students and their peers; 60 percent of Aboriginal children are significantly behind going into their first year of school, and only 10 percent of them graduate from their twelfth year.3

Poverty

13 percent of all Australians live below the poverty line, which totals around 3 million people. 730,000 of these people are children. The Borgen Project also observed that Aboriginal peoples are more likely to suffer from poverty due to the history of discrimination and oppression they have faced.1 Indigenous people who live in rural areas were also found to be disproportionately more impoverished than non-indigenous people living in urban areas.2

Religion

The population of Australia is approximately 23 percent Protestant, 23 percent Catholic, and the remaining population identifies as Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Eastern Orthodox, other, or nonreligious. Religious conflict in Australia is largely nonexistent.1

Clean Water

100 percent of the Australian population has access to potable water and improved sanitation infrastructure.1 The country has dedicated $47.9 billion to water aid in its 2017–18 budget, focusing mainly on the Indo-Pacific region.2

Economy

Australia has a free economy and consistently ranks in the top five countries in the Asia-Pacific region for freedom from corruption and greatest economic growth. Australia participates in international trade, and foreign investments and entrepreneurship are encouraged. Anti-corruption measures are implemented and enforced, and the economy is highly transparent.1 The country imports large amounts of machinery, crude oil, and computers, while exports consist largely of coal, iron ore, and gold. The unemployment rate in Australia is 5.6 percent. Public debt is 47 percent of the GDP, and the country’s main trade partners are China, Japan, and the United States.2

Government

The Commonwealth of Australia is a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy. The chief of state is the king or queen of England, since the country is a Commonwealth realm. The head of government is the prime minister.1There are strongly enforced anti-corruption measures in place in Australia and high levels of transparency. The high levels of economic growth can be attributed to the country’s competitiveness in services, manufacturing goods, and technologies.2 Transparency International ranks Australia 13th out of 176 countries for perceived corruption, and the Australian public scores their own government at 79 out of a possible 100.3

Health

In Australia, alcohol is a major cause of death, disease, and injury. A recent study by the Australian Bureau for Statistics found that the average Australian drinks 680 beers a year.1 Healthcare in Australia is provided both by the government and by private institutions. 16 percent of Australians have reported intentionally skipping out on either doctors visits or medication because of prohibitive costs.2 The maternal mortality rate is 6 deaths per 100,000 live births, and infant mortality is around 4.3 deaths per 10,000 live births. The government spends 9.4 percent of GDP on health expenditures.3

Children

Approximately 17 percent of children live below the poverty line in Australia, despite the high standard of living and relative wealth of the country.1 There are approximately 4 million children in Australia, and around 200,000 of these are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.2 Aboriginal children face much higher chances of suffering sexual abuse, especially in rural areas. In 2013, 39 cases of children with STIs were reported. The Australian Institute states that an estimated 90 percent of child sexual abuse in rural areas is unreported. Aboriginal girls in rural areas are more than 10 times as likely to be sexually abused than other girls.3 A five year study by the Australia Royal Commission found that nearly 4,500 children had been sexually abused by hundreds Read More of Catholic priests.4 Show Less

Animals

The southern part of Australia contains the Great Victoria Desert and experiences extreme temperatures, providing an ideal habitat for many species of reptiles, including the great desert skink, and nine species of geckos.1 The northern regions in Australia have rivers and floodplains that reflect the common monsoons that sweep through the area annually between November and March. Home to the Kakadu National Park, the area provides habitats for freshwater turtles and crocodiles, seabirds, and the burrowing snake. Threats to the legally well-protected natural habitats include brush fires and invasive species, and are rarely endangered by human activity.2

Australia

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