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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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