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More bold policy action needed to recover jobs and incomes – ACOSS on Economic Statement

ACOSS says the Federal Government’s Economic Statement released today shows the positive impact that decisive government action has had in preventing further job losses and cushioning the financial impact of the pandemic on households and the economy. Further bold action is needed now to generate jobs and to provide certainty for those with low incomes in order to prevent further recession. Read more

Millions face income losses as JobSeeker supplement reduced and anxiety about future remains

Today’s decision to reduce the JobSeeker supplement will have a severe impact on millions of people, whose lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic, without providing any certainty about the future payment rate. Responding to the announcement today regarding the future of the JobSeeker Payment, ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “The decision to reduce the JobSeeker Payment in September will hurt millions of people just keeping their heads above water. It means from 25 September, a person on JobSeeker will lose $300 per fortnight or $150 per week, and face the prospect of a further cut just after Christmas. “People need financial security and certainty at this anxious time. Today’s announcement gives them neither. “The full supplement should be maintained until it is replaced with a permanent, adequate increase. Instead, the Coronavirus Supplement has been extended only to 31 December, with people facing the prospect of returning to $40 a day on New Year’s Day. Read more.

Thousands on JobSeeker contact their MPs in National Day of Action to Raise the Rate for Good

Across the country, people on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance are contacting their local members of Parliament to tell them why we cannot go back to $40 per day, as part of the Raise the Rate for Good campaign’s National Day of Action. A wide range of organisations are showing their support through an open statement calling for a permanent and adequate increase to JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and related payments to cover the basics, so everyone can put a roof over their head and food on the table. Signatories include the Australian Medical Association, Cancer Council Australia, the Centre for Economic Development of Australia, the Country Women’s Association, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, People with Disability Australia, the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children, and Council on the Ageing Australia. Read more.

1 job for every 13 looking – ACOSS calls on Government to have people’s backs through tough times

The Australian Council of Social Service is calling on the Government to recognise the reality of the job market and housing costs in deciding the future of the JobSeeker payment.
Key facts:
• There is 1 job vacancy available for every 13 people on JobSeeker or Youth Allowance (ABS)
• The percentage of people not able to meet their regular housing costs rose from 6.9% in April to 15.1% in May – Australian National University research, released today
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“We has just experienced the largest fall in jobs since the Great Depression. More people than ever before will struggle to find paid work. We’ve just seen 6,000 job losses at Qantas and thousands more in retail, including at Woolworths. There is currently only one job vacancy available for every 13 people on JobSeeker or Youth Allowance. Read more.

Permanent increase to JobSeeker and Youth Allowance must be enough to cover the basics

As reported today, the Government is considering a permanent increase to the old Newstart rate ($40 a day) of $10 a day, which would come into effect for people on JobSeeker, once the Coronavirus Supplement, which effectively doubled the old rate to $80 a day, is set to finish in September.Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“We need to raise the rate of JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other income support payments for good so that everyone has enough to cover the basics of life, like a roof over their head and food on the table. Read more.

Survey shows increased JobSeeker payment allowing people to eat regularly, cover rent and pay bills

More than 9 out of 10 people in a national survey reported that the removal of the new JobSeeker rate would have a significant or extreme impact on their ability to cover the cost of essentials. The national survey by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) of 955 people currently receiving JobSeeker, Youth Allowance or other social security payments with the Coronavirus Supplement shows the difference it has made to their lives. The overwhelming majority of people who completed the survey had been receiving one of these social security payments before the Coronavirus Supplement was brought in. Read more.

A permanent increase to JobSeeker needed to keep 1.6 million out of poverty

ACOSS is encouraged by reports that the Federal Government is considering a permanent increase to the Jobseeker payment and urges it to engage with key stakeholders, experts and those with lived experience to set a payment rate that meets the needs of people affected and the economy. ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “In this precarious economic environment, it is more important than ever that we have a robust safety net for the 1.6 million people who are now locked out of enough paid work, and the projected more than 2 million people needing income support in September.” Read more.

Fear that early childhood changes will hold back women’s workforce participation

The announcement of the end of free childcare, along with a return to the old child care subsidy system and the withdrawal of JobKeeper for childcare services risks an increase in female unemployment and will likely have adverse impacts for women and children. “It is of great concern that the first sector to have Covid-19 support withdrawn is female dominated with low wages. The changes are likely to adversely affect women, both as workers and parents,” says ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie. Read more.

Robodebt was inhumane & inaccurate – refunds are overdue and must be expedited

The Australian Council of Social Service thanks everyone who has spoken out about being charged a robodebt, as the Government today finally agreed to repay all illegal robodebts. Today Services Australia has announced that the 470,000 robodebts (debts issued using automated averaging, which has now been found to be unlawful) will be refunded to people who repaid the debts, including recovery fees and interest. Read more

New report shows women with caring responsibilities at greater risk of poverty before COVID-19 and highlights risks of ‘snapback’

New analysis of poverty in Australia finds that, before COVID-19, households with children with a female main income earner were more than twice as likely to live in poverty as those in which the main income earner was male, highlighting the impact of caring roles on poverty in Australia. The report also finds that people who were unemployed were at greatest risk of poverty, with two-thirds of people in affected households living below the poverty line. The report’s findings confirm, once again, the inadequacy of pre-COVID payments for people who are unemployed. Read more  Read full report

Extend JobKeeper & JobSeeker to ensure nobody is left behind

The Australian Council of Social Service is calling on the Prime Minister to commit in his National Press Club address tomorrow to ensuring nobody is left behind in the COVID-19 recovery, including by:
• Immediately extending JobKeeper, JobSeeker and Medicare to temporary migrants
• Continuing the new JobSeeker payment of $560 per week until a social security system is put in place that keeps everyone out of poverty. Read more

Jobs figures show importance of JobKeeper and new JobSeeker

The April employment figures out today demonstrate the importance of a decent, secure safety net for people without paid employment, says the Australian Council of Social Service.
“We’ve already seen the official unemployment rate rise to 6.2% in April and we know this would have been worse had the JobKeeper payment not been announced,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
“Startlingly, 20% of people previously employed (2.7 million) became unemployed or had their hours reduced between March and April.
“For people without a job, or those who need more hours, there is currently very little opportunity to find paid work. Not only is this financially distressing, the great uncertainty that people are going through deeply affects mental health. Read more.

ACOSS warns against the Government’s planned cuts to income support

Ahead of the Treasurer’s economic address tomorrow, the Australian Council of Social Service says the community strongly opposes the massive cuts to income support proposed by the Government in September, just a few months away.

The Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“People cannot afford these huge cuts to income support, proposed by the Government, which would take us back to the old, brutal rate of Newstart at just $40 a day. Read more.

Treasurer states we need a decent social security safety net

In a National Press Club address today, Treasurer Frydenberg has stated that we must ensure “a safety net which is underpinned by a sense of decency and fairness”.

The Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“We need Governments to have our backs now and for the longer term. We can never go back to the brutality of forcing people to try to survive on $40 a day. Read more

Poll shows majority support permanent JobSeeker fix

The majority of the community (57%) believes the JobSeeker payment should not be cut back down to the old Newstart rate, shows the national Essential Poll today, with 15% of respondents undecided.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “Just as there was wide community agreement that the old low rate of Newstart was unlivable, there’s strong community agreement that there should not be big cuts to the JobSeeker payment that people can’t afford.

“It’s clear we need a permanent fix to our social safety net. Our income support system was cruel before this crisis began. Read more.

Senate Committee finds we must permanently increase income support

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes the report of the Senate Inquiry into the Adequacy of Newstart.

The Committee recommends that that the JobSeeker (formerly Newstart), Youth Allowance and Parenting Payments be increased once the Coronavirus Supplement is phased out.
ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said: “The Senate heard from people skipping meals, forgoing medication, turning off their fridges to save electricity and struggling to keep a roof over their head. This increased JobSeeker payment has come about thanks to people bravely sharing their stories about trying to get by on the old paltry rate of Newstart.

The Senate Committee recommends: “once the Coronavirus Supplement is phased out, the Australian Government increase the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment rates to ensure that all eligible recipients do not live in poverty.” Read more.

ACOSS recovery proposals for job creation and poverty reduction

The Australian Council of Social Service has today released proposals for five job-rich measures that will help people and communities to recover from the coronavirus crisis.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“Now more than ever, the virus and bushfires have shown us we must work together to help each other recover and get us on a path to building a better future, with positive ideas that create jobs, and quickly, while strengthening communities. Read more.

ACOSS Statement on changes to JobKeeper eligibility for charities and not-for-profits

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes changes to JobKeeper eligibility for charities and not-for-profits announced by the Federal Government on Friday, which will help ensure that crucial services can continue to be provided to those most at risk in this crisis. Read more.
Accesible Version here

Who misses out on access to Australia’s safety net under Covid19

In the midst of a public health crisis, it is essential that everyone in Australia has access to income support and healthcare to reduce the negative impact of the COVID19 pandemic. Over one million people in Australia do not have access to income support (including Jobseeker Payment, Youth Allowance or Special Benefit) or the JobKeeper wage subsidy, despite having the right to work, study, or seek asylum. Read more.

COVID-19 unemployment report shows why we must fix our approach to helping people locked out of paid work

With the Grattan Institute report confirming today that people on low incomes, younger people and women are more likely to lose their jobs in the current economic crisis, the Australian Council of Social Service is calling on the government to fix our approach to supporting people back into jobs, for good, so that no one is left behind as we recover and rebuild. Read more

Historic JobKeeper scheme delivers huge relief to millions at risk of losing paid work

ACOSS welcomes the passing of the historic JobKeeper payment through Parliament overnight, which follows the long-overdue increase to Newstart (JobSeeker) and Youth Allowance.

“The JobKeeper payment is crucial action taken by Government that will help provide job and income security for millions of paid workers across the country at this extremely difficult time,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said. Read more.

Government’s Jobkeeper changes welcome help for some charities but big job losses still faced by others, revenue test needs change

The Australian Council of Social Service says the Government’s decision to reduce restrictions on charities accessing the JobKeeper payment will help some charities in the community sector and is welcome but still leaves too many without adequate support and job losses still at stake.

As announced by the Treasurer on Sunday night, charities registered with the Australian Charities & Not-for-profits Commission will be eligible for JobKeeper Payment if they have a turnover decline of 15% or more. This will apply to all registered charities, including those with a turnover of more than $1 billion. Initially, the payment was only available to charities with turnover less than $1 billion and with a drop in revenue of at least 30 per cent. Read More.

New report provides insights on reducing long-term unemployment when the economy recovers

As Australia faces a period of high unemployment, Jobs Australia and the Australian Council of Social Service have released a report showing reform of employment services and commitments from employers will be crucial in reducing long-term unemployment in the recovery period.

The report, ‘Faces of Unemployment’, was prepared before the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent announcement of a six-month payment that effectively doubles the rate of the JobSeeker Allowance (Newstart) and Youth Allowance. Nonetheless, the report provides important insights that could be applied by government to effectively reduce long-term unemployment in the lead up to our recovery from the current health and economic crisis. It profiles the people who receive Newstart Allowance and the jobs that were available to them, demonstrating that even before the present downturn, those receiving income support had a hard time finding employment. Read More

ACOSS welcomes vital JobKeeper Payment; more work to do to ensure all are supported

ACOSS strongly welcomes today’s announcement of a wage subsidy to employers to help keep as many workers employed as possible through the present emergency.

“We are particularly pleased to see the decision to extend the subsidy widely to all employers, including community sector and not for profit organisations that experience a sharp drop in revenue, noting details are yet to be revealed,” Australian Council of Social Service CEO Cassandra Goldie said. Read More

ACOSS calls for Urgent Action on Community Services Sector Rescue Package

ACOSS has again written urgently to the Minister for Social Services calling for a major Community Services Sector Rescue Package. With a raft of reports of major jobs losses, and cuts to services around the country, the Federal Government must move rapidly to implement both fiscal and administrative measures to prevent large scale damage being done. Community services are essential services which must responding to the health and social crisis unfolding around the country. Read the letter here

Government must cancel robodebts and boost Centrelink staffing

After revelations today that the government reportedly owes 450,000 people more than half a billion dollars in false robodebts, ACOSS calls on the government to immediately cancel all robodebts and refund the money plus interest.

For the first time, we have an understanding of what government wrongfully collected under robodebt. It appears that government must repay about 70% of what it has collected, having received $785m as at August 2019. Read more

Relief as 6-month supplement extended to students, concern for groups facing destitution and advice on contacting Centrelink

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes the passage of both stimulus packages through the Parliament last night, highlighting more will be needed.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“We’re relieved to see that the $550 per fortnightly Supplement will now be extended to students on Youth Allowance, Abstudy and Austudy. We will advocate for more support for people who remain uncovered by income support if they have no paid employment, including asylum seekers. Read more

Extension of stimulus measures to vital community services sector welcome, larger rescue package needed

The Australian Council of Social Service has welcomed the extension of small business cashflow support to community services and charities in the second stimulus package, announced today, but highlights that a larger rescue package is needed, with community services on the frontline of responding to the COVID-19 health and social crisis.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life already suffered and understand the community’s grave concerns about health and incomes,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.

“We must work together as a community to respond rapidly to the unfolding health and social crisis of COVID-19.” Read more.

ACOSS: “Huge relief” with crucial doubling of Newstart

The increase to the Jobseeker Allowance, formerly known as Newstart, and the Youth Allowance Job Seeker payment, through the introduction of a temporary coronavirus payment of $275 per week, announced by the Federal Government today is welcome and absolutely vital.

Please note, ACOSS will be responding to other elements of today’s stimulus announcement in a separate media statement later today.

As the Treasurer’s media release says: The temporary payment “will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit for the next six months”. Read more.

ACOSS, COSS network and ASU Covid-19 community sector rescue package recommendations

The Councils of Social Service (COSS) Network and the ASU are calling on the Federal Government to support the community sector to respond to the COVID-19 health, social and economic crisis.

  1. Extend all business related stimulus measures to community sector and not for profit organisations.
  2. Create a Community Sector continuity of service enabling Fund to ensure continuity of service delivery, secure jobs, prevent loss of jobs or income, guaranteed paid special leave for all workers, and to enable ramp up of services for people in need as well ensure that services remain viable to assist with the recovery from the pandemic. Read more.

As impact of coronoavirus grows, survey shows vital community services sinking with demand

Government support for the not-for-profit community service sector is failing to keep up with demand for services, allow advocacy and foster collaboration finds the Australian Community Service Sector, released today, as the impact of the coronavirus on the sector rapidly unfolds.

The not-for-profit community service sector provides services we all rely on, both during crisis, and over our lifetimes. Community services include childcare and aged care; as well as support for people in times of great need, such as when they’re escaping domestic violence, facing homelessness or struggling to feed their families.

The community sector supports people who could be most impacted by the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus, including older people, people on low incomes, people with disability and First Nations communities. Read more.

Government must act now on the many, diverse calls for ongoing Newstart increase for everyone locked out of paid work

In the face of severe downturn, ACOSS reiterates the broad, immense support for an ongoing increase to Newstart and related payments, calling on the Government to include in its second stimulus package an increase to Newstart and other allowances, of at least a $95 per week, so that everyone who is getting locked out of paid work can cover the costs of essentials.

“Right now, people locked out of paid work fear how they will keep a roof over their head and put food on the table. People without paid work were already struggling to afford these basics before this crisis,” Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said. Read more.

Recommendations to Government measures in response to COVID19 health crisis

The Australian Council of Social Service has written to the Prime Minister with recommendations on the COVID19 response to support people who are most vulnerable at this time. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life already suffered and understand the community’s grave concerns about health and incomes,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said. “We must work together as a community to deal with the health crisis in a way that supports people in the greatest need. Read more.

While low-income relief welcome, more than just a quick fix needed

While the Government’s stimulus package provides welcome short-term relief for people on low incomes, much more is needed to safeguard people and the economy, says the Australian Council of Social Service. In response to the $750 one-off payments for people receiving payments including Newstart, Youth Allowance, Austudy, Disability Support Pension, Carers Payment, Family Tax Benefits, Commonwealth Senior Health Card Holders and the Age Pension, from March 31, 2020, with one payment per eligible person, ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said:

“People are doing it really tough, especially people on Newstart and Youth Allowance – the lowest payments – and pensioners who don’t own their home. The payment will be welcome short-term relief but it’s nowhere near enough. Leading economists urged the government to increase Newstart ongoing to build consumer confidence and to guarantee that the payment would be spent into the real economy. Read more.

Response to reporting of one-off social security payments in economic stimulus package

In response to reporting that one-off social security payments, including for people on Newstart, will be part of the Government’s imminent stimulus package, Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“While we would welcome a substantial payment delivered now and another delivered in the Budget, the most effective step the government can take, both from an economic and social perspective, is to increase the base rate of Newstart.

“Increasing Newstart is one of the best ways to provide immediate economic stimulus where it is needed most. It will be spent rapidly, injecting much needed dollars into the economy to keep small businesses open.

“With increasing unemployment expected, increasing Newstart would also support economic recovery over the medium term by creating jobs. Read more.

Small business calls for economic stimulus to include Newstart increase

The Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia and the Australian Council of Social Service have joined forces to call for an increase to Newstart to be included in the Federal Government’s imminent economic stimulus package.

Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia CEO Peter Strong said: “While most people have been supporting an increase in Newstart for many years, the coronavirus creates a greater need to increase the rate. It is likely people will be laid off from businesses that cannot operate due to staff absences or closure of infrastructure or lack of goods or market. Read more.

GDP figures and coronavirus underscore need for effective economic stimulus targeted to those with greatest need

Following the release of the National Accounts today, ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie will address the Australian Investment Council this evening to outline key measures to boost the economy while acting on poverty, inequality, homelessness and climate change. “The way we choose to respond to the current economic situation will have serious impacts not just on incomes and jobs but also on the level and extent of poverty and inequality in our communities,” Dr Goldie will say. Read more.

Yet another federal government MP calls for Newstart increase

Federal Government MP Pat Conaghan has come out in support of an increase to Newstart, citing concerns over child poverty, in a move warmly welcomed by the Australian and New South Wales Councils of Social Service.
Mr Conaghan, a Nationals MP who represents the New South Wales mid-north coast electorate of Cowper, joins a growing number of other government members who have spoken out on the need for an increase, including Barnaby Joyce, Dean Smith and Matthew Canavan, as well as NSW Deputy Leader and NSW Nationals Leader John Barilaro. Read more.

Survey shows community services and workers at risk from funding uncertainty

Community service leaders across the country are concerned that the Federal Government is yet to commit to the continuation of funding put in place to ensure staff can be fairly paid in this important sector. The sector provides homelessness, food relief, mental health and many other community services. Read more.

Independent academic research confirms that the cashless debit card is stigmatising, impractical and unnecessary

The first independent study of the cashless debit card and income management, conducted by researchers at the University of Queensland and Monash University, has found 84% of people surveyed had experienced stigma and shame while using the card. Read more

Report shows 3 million people in poverty in Australia and why we must act to support each other

The 2020 Poverty in Australia Overview, released today by the Australian Council of Social Service and UNSW Sydney, shows more than one in eight adults and one in six children live below the poverty line in Australia.  Read more

Reform super tax breaks to properly fund aged care, and fix inequities before increasing super guarantee – ACOSS Submission to the Retirement Income Review

Quality health and aged care services, affordable housing and an adequate income support system are vital to ensuring decent, secure retirements, says the Australian Council of Social Service’s submission to Treasury’s Retirement Incomes Review. It will not be possible for future governments to properly fund these essential services for an ageing population while the present, unaffordable tax breaks for superannuation investment income remain in place, without increasing already high out-of-pocket costs for these services.

The submission argues for the inequitable tax breaks for super contributions to be reformed before further increases to the superannuation guarantee are made. Read more

Government’s cashless-debit scheme with big banks is a shameless attempt to distract from need to Newstart increase

The Australian Council of Social Service has criticised the Government’s announcement today that it is working with the big four banks on a scheme to expand the cashless debit card nationwide, despite opposition to the card in the Senate.

“This is a shameless attempt to distract from the mounting, widespread support for Newstart to be raised after 26 years without a real increase,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.

“This Card is a nasty invasion of privacy. It’s unnecessary, expensive, stigmatising and impractical, making it harder for people to buy from op-shops, buy second-hand furniture, rent in shared accommodation or to provide children with money for school activities. Read more

Solutions are clear to major national challenges impacting people’s daily lives – ACOSS budget submission

The Federal Government has an urgent social, economic and environmental imperative to act in the Federal Budget to address major national challenges – stagnant incomes, a weak economy, service failures and climate change – says the Australian Council of Social Service’s submission to the Government on the Federal Budget, released today. Read more

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