Fair-Go should be extended to people on income support who are living in poverty

5 March 2012

The peak body for Australia’s community sector, ACOSS, supports the Treasurer Wayne Swan’s call for a national debate about ‘fair’ sharing of Australia’s wealth from the mining boom, but wants the notion of a fair go extended to people on social security payments such as Newstart, who are forced to live in poverty on just $35 per day.

“The Treasurer made some important points in his speech at the National Press Club today, especially in stressing that wealth creation is not simply about “putting dollars in people’s pockets, but about building a better society; a society that provides opportunity to more people, a society that lifts up the worst-off, and gives everyone a decent shot at a decent life. “

“However, ACOSS is concerned that this sentiment is not being extended to the most disadvantaged in society, those on income support payments like Newstart, which hasn’t seen an real increase since 1994,” said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“ACOSS has long argued for the growing disparity between people on income support payments to be addressed. For instance, because the Government indexes payments differently there is now a $131 per week gap between people who rely on Newstart and Sole Parents Allowance for their livelihoods compared to those on age, disability and carer pensions.

“This gap will widen further on March 20 to $132.90 with a new round of indexation. Both the Henry Review and the OECD have stressed the need for this gap to be redressed by raising allowances and for the Government to index all pensions and allowances in the same way. In fact the Henry Review calculated that at the current rate the gap between pensions and allowances will double by 2040. 

“There is a growing consensus in the wider community, ranging from business organisations, economists, the union movement, to the broad community and social services sector that the current rate of single Allowance payments is simply not enough for people to live on and is hindering their efforts to find paid work.

“More than 100 organisations and 400 individuals have so far signed an ACOSS statement supporting this sentiment. The statement also calls for greater investment in job training and case management of long term unemployed people to improve their opportunities to get a ‘fair go’.

“Unless the base rate of allowances is increased and indexed at the same level to meet the growing costs of essentials like rent, utilities and food, those at the very bottom will continue to be locked out and forced to live in poverty. Only then will we be able to help ‘lift up the worst-off and give everyone a decent shot at a decent life’,” Dr Goldie said.

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155

Both the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott have been invited to present their visions for improving equity and fairness in Australia at the ACOSS National Conference later this month, which we’ve titled, ‘Sharing the Wealth of the Lucky Country’.

Find out more about the ACOSS Conference >>

Find out more about the ACOSS Campaign: $35 a day is not enough!

Payment rates

(per week)



March 2012




(Jan – March 2012)

Single pension





Single Newstart Allowance





Gap between pension and Newstart Allowance





Sole parent on Newstart Allowance





Gap between pension and sole parent on Newstart Allowance