Local Councils to vote on increasing Newstart at national conference

19 June 2018

19 June 2018: Key national and grassroots community organisations are calling on the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) to support a motion for an immediate increase to Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments being put forward by a local council at their national conference on Tuesday 19 June 2018.

Fourteen local councils in South Australia, Western Australia, and Victoria have already passed motions backing an increase to Newstart to alleviate poverty and homelessness and increase dignity in their local communities.

One of those Councils – Moreland City Council from Victoria – will put forward a motion at their national conference today calling on Federal Government to increase Newstart.

The call to increase Newstart has the support of community organisations, business groups (including the Business Council of Australia), the ACTU, and leading economists like Chris Richardson.

The ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr also backs an increase, saying Newstart is so low ‘it simply traps [people] in disadvantage.”

Pas Forgione, State Coordinator of Anti-Poverty Network SA, has been leading the charge to get local governments to support a Newstart increase.

“We know from our members that the meagre rate of Newstart and other allowances affects every aspect of recipients’ lives,” says Mr Forgione.

“It means skipping meals, constantly falling behind with bills, going without dental care and medicines, feeling left out of the community and cut-off from networks and supports.

“ALGA support for an increase to Newstart would demonstrate that local Councils recognise how harmful poverty is for those out of paid work. ALGA would be listening to community sentiment on this issue, with 68 percent of Australians supportive of a raise to Newstart, according to a recent opinion poll.”

Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO, says local government areas will continue to pick up the pieces of poverty if unemployment and student payments continue to fall well short of living costs.

“The National General Assembly of Local Government presents an ideal opportunity for local government to establish its members’ support to increase Newstart and related payments.

“Newstart Allowance for people looking for paid work has not increased in real terms for 24 years.

“People locked out of paid work, single parents, students, and people with an illness or disability are all struggling to survive on these totally inadequate payments.

”Many of these people live below the poverty line in local council areas where paid work is scarce and charity resources are already stretched.

“We are extremely pleased 14 local councils have taken stock of what is needed in their local areas and thrown support behind increasing Newstart to get better outcomes for local citizens.

“Poverty has an impact on every community member. Raising the rate of Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments will significantly reduce poverty and increase spending in local communities.

This Statement is endorsed by:

ACT Council of Social Service
Anti-Poverty Network QLD
Anti-Poverty Network SA
Anti-Poverty Network WA
Australia Council of Social Service
Australian Unemployed Workers Union
National Council of Single Mothers and their Children
Northern Territory Council of Social Service
NSW Council of Social Service
Queensland Council of Social Service
South Australian Council of Social Service
Tasmanian Council of Social Service
Victorian Council of Social Service
WA Council of Social Service

Contact:  Australian Council of Social Service, 0419 626 155