"The Lowest Rung is a fascinating and profoundly moving portrait of the people who are suffering the consequences of a more divided and less egalitarian Australian society. Based largely on the author's conversations with hundreds of people living and working in three areas commonly described as 'disadvantaged' - Inala in Queensland, Mount Druitt in New South Wales and Broadmeadows in Victoria - this is a book in which impoverished Australians, who are too often absent from debates about poverty, tell their own stories. Some are funny, others are sad. There are stories they can hardly bear to tell about loss, despair and an uncertain future. But there are also stories about hope, and the capacity of poorer people to imagine and create a fairer world. Rather than focusing on abstractions such as 'the underclass', this book provides an intimate account of real people's fears, hopes and dilemmas in the face of growing inequality, entrenched unemployment, and fading opportunities for the young." "This important book is essential reading for anyone concerned about the impact of social and economic change in contemporary Australia. It urges us to learn from rather than lecture those who experience first-hand the more unequal future we are now making, and it will change the way we think about poverty and its solutions."--BOOK JACKET.