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ACOSS Report: 'Disturbing' data reveals 730,000 Australian children living below poverty line

Anonymous students at high school in south-east Queensland

A national welfare body says there are more children living under the poverty line around the country today than in the past decade.

Research from the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) shows that despite more than 25 years of economic growth, 13.3 per cent of the population is living in poverty.

The report found there had been an increase in child poverty amongst lone parent families, with 731,000 children living below the poverty line.

ACOSS chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie described the data as "disturbing".

"We have made virtually no impact over the last ten years on the level of poverty in Australia," she said.

"The level is 40 per cent and that has increased in the last two years".

Dr Goldie said the Federal Government must implement changes in current measures to make a difference.

"There are some clear measures that could be implemented, in some cases virtually overnight, to change this picture significantly," she said.

The welfare body wants to see the issue prioritised by the Fede

ral Government and to ensure low income families are not worse off by cuts to welfare payments.

Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos said workforce participation was the key to tackling the problem.

"I think the best way to deal with child poverty is to have a strong economy because a lot of these kids are growing up in households where one or more parents, and maybe even grandparents, has not had a job," he said.

But federal Labor minister Jim Chalmers said the problem is unacceptable.

"This is the worst possible time for the Turnbull Government to be cutting people's family payments, cutting parental leave, and making jobseekers go up to a month without anything to live on at all," he said.

In 2014, the poverty line for a single adult was $426.30 a week for a single adult, or $8.95.22 a week for a couple with children, according to the report.

The report said the majority of people living in poverty relied on social security payments as their main source of income, while a third of people relied on wages.

'I don't want to wake up because I don't want to worry'

Emily Bills, 21, has three daughters under the age of four.

Her partner works and she works part-time at a fast food restaurant, but the couple has been forced to live with his parents because they struggle to make ends meet on their own.

"It makes me feel very exhausted and angry and upset that I can't afford stuff that other people can afford," Ms Bills told ABC News.

"Bills have to come before everything else, then we always make sure there's enough food on the table to supply the girls. That's our main priority, making sure they have everything."

Ms Bills said she often lays awake at night worrying about the family finances.

"Then sometimes I don't want to have to wake up, because I don't want to worry about how to manage stuff," she said.