ACOSS responds to ACTU and Salvation Army Reports on people with the lowest incomes

23 May 2018

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie welcomed the ACTU and Salvation Army’s calls for an increase to Newstart in their respective reports ‘Jobs you can count on’ and ‘Feeling the Pinch’, launched today.

‘’We welcome the release today of a major report on employment by the ACTU. This strengthens the groundswell of support across the community and business sectors to raise the rate of Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments,” said Dr Goldie. “Today, the Salvation Army renewed their calls for an increase to Newstart. These calls are backed by former Prime Minister of Australia John Howard, author and lecturer Jane Caro, the Council of Small Business, Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics, Heather Ridout AO from Australian Super, Dr Ken Henry from the ­National Australia Bank, and Jennifer Westacott from the Business Council of Australia.

“A minimum increase of $75 per week to Newstart and related payments will help people struggling to afford three meals a day cover the cost of essentials such as a roof over their head, transport, bills and clothing.

“Newstart is currently just $278 per week. This and related payments have not increased in real terms for 24 years. It is near impossible to look for work or study if you’re homeless and hungry.

“The Salvation Army today said the inaction of the Federal Government in increasing Newstart and related payments is putting further pressure on charities to help individuals and families make ends meet.

“The ACTU today backs our call for the proper indexation of Newstart and related payments to wage and price movements, similar to how the pension is configured.

“ACOSS agrees with many of ACTU’s policies outlined today, including:

  • abolition of the Liquid Assets Waiting period, which simply dries up a person’s financial reserves before they are allowed to access the basic income;
  • abolition of Work for the Dole and the Community Development Program. Work for the Dole only increases people’s chances of getting work by 2%;
  • more investment in properly-paid work experience and training for people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more;
  • community benefit agreements requiring sponsors of publicly supported infrastructure to give preference for hiring people who are disadvantaged and long term unemployed – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with disabilities and apprentices.

“The ACTU has identified a number of major employment challenges, including the need for:

  • stronger workplace protections for temporary migrant workers;
  • stronger anti-discrimination laws re employment;
  • improved employment conditions and job security for NDIS workers and the need for improved quality of care; and
  • more progress on equal pay.

“We call on the government to listen to the community. The Government must urgently raise the rate of Newstart and related payments as a first step in alleviating poverty and disadvantage for hundreds and thousands of people living in Australia. It must also work to improve employment opportunities and conditions for people on the lowest incomes to ensure that people in the lowest 40% are not left behind.”

Contact:  Australian Council of Social Service, 0419 626 155