26 April 2023
Politicians from across the aisle, academics, business leaders, community advocates and other prominent Australians have joined in a rare display of unity to urge the Prime Minister to implement the first priority recommendation of the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee and deliver a substantial increase to JobSeeker and related payments in the May Budget.
Labor MPs Alicia Payne, Louise Miller-Frost, Michelle Ananda-Rajah and Kate Thwaites, Liberal MP Bridget Archer, the Greens, and a wide range of independents and cross-bench politicians including Kate Chaney, Zoe Daniel, Dr Helen Haines, Zali Steggall, Allegra Spender, Jacqui Lambie, David Pocock, Dr Monique Ryan, Kylea Tink, Dr Sophie Scamps, Lidia Thorpe and Andrew Wilkie, have all signed an Open Letter urging Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to lift Jobseeker and related payments to help address “structural injustice” and “increased deprivation”.
Sitting members of the Federal Parliament are joined by former senior politicians and bureaucrats, First Nations leaders, leading economists, community sector leaders and prominent Australians detailed below.
The Open Letter to the Prime Minister comes after the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, which was established as part of an historic agreement between the Government and Senator Pocock, recommended the government deliver a substantial increase to JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and related payments as a “first priority”. The Committee found that the payments are inadequate against all existing benchmarks and that increasing their rate to 90% of the Age Pension would improve adequacy and return them to payment relativities of 1999.
The Open Letter, coordinated by the Australian Council of Social Service, says: “We all want the security of knowing that we’ll be supported during tough times.
“But right now, the rate of JobSeeker is so low that people are being forced to choose between paying their rent or buying enough food and medicine.”
Currently, for a single person, JobSeeker is $49.50 per day and Youth Allowance is $40.20 per day.
ACOSS research last year found that six in ten people on income support were eating less or reporting difficulty getting medicine or care because their incomes are totally inadequate. This figure increased to seven in ten in March 2023.
Former politicians and bureaucrats to have signed include Brian Howe AO, Kathryn Greiner AO, Cathy McGowan AO, Robert Tickner AO, Doug Cameron, Jenny Macklin, John Hewson AM, Fred Chaney AO, Verity Firth AM, Renée Leon PSM, Andrew Podger AO and Marie Coleman AO.
Economists, philanthropists and business and union leaders include Ken Henry AC, Jeff Borland, Danielle Wood, Chris Richardson, David Thodey AO, Emma Dawson, Nicki Hutley, Angela Jackson, Sally McManus, Michele O’Neil, Simon Holmes à Court, Richard Denniss, Melinda Cilento, Paul Zahra, Jill Reichstein AM and Diane Smith-Gander AO.
First Nations leaders including Professor Megan Davis, Pat Turner, Antoinette Braybrook, Dr Hannah McGlade, Mick Gooda, June Oscar AO and Thomas Mayor have signed, along with prominent Australians including Patrick McGorry AO, Fiona Stanley AO, Tim Costello AO, Tony Nicholson, Dr Nicole Higgins, Craig Foster, Jane Caro AM and Julie McCrossin AM.
Academics including Professor Kay Cook, Professor Nareen Young, Professor Miranda Stewart, Professor Peter Whiteford, Professor Eileen Baldry AO, Assoc Professor Ben Phillips, Eva Cox AO, and Professor Julian Disney AO have also signed.
Community sector leaders across the country have signed, including:
- Hang Vo, ACOSS President
- CEOs of State and Territory Councils of Social Services
- Mohammad Al-Kafaji, FECCA CEO
- Sandra Elhelw-Wright, Settlement Council of Australia CEO
- Ram Neupane, Settlement Services International, Acting CEO
- Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre CEO
- Brad Chilcott, Welcoming Australia Founder
- Rebecca Glenn, Centre for Womens Economic Safety CEO
- Tanya Corrie, Juno CEO
- Yumi Lee, Older Women’s Network NSW CEO
- Hayley Foster, Full Stop Australia CEO
- Terese Edwards, Single Mother Families Australia CEO
- Bishop Philip Huggins, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture Director of Centre for Ecumenical Studies and President of the National Council of Churches in Australia
- Mohamed Mohideen, OAM JP MASM, Islamic Council of Victoria Vice-President and Victorian Multicultural Commissioner
- Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta and Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service Chair
- Alan Kirkland, CHOICE CEO
- Nicole Higgins, Royal Australian College of General Practice President
- Nicole Bartholomeusz, cohealth Chief Executive
- Elizabeth Deveny, Consumers Health Forum of Australia CEO
- Kylie Ward, Australian College of Nursing CEO
- Dr Zena Burgess, Australian Psychological Society CEO
- Tish Sivagnanan, Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) National President
- Terry Slevin, Public Health Association of Australia CEO
- Robert Hunt, Dietitians Australia CEO
- Michelle Greenwood, Invisible Illnessses Inc Founder
- Liz Jacka, Dying With Dignity NSW Director
- Gill Callister, Mind Australia CEO
- Luke Rycken, Australian Youth Affairs Coalition CEO
- Jason Trethowan, headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation CEO
- Jackie Brady, Family & Relationship Services Australia Executive Director
- Nick Tebbey, Relationships Australia National Executive Officer
- Georgie Dent, The Parenthood Executive Director
- Skye Kakoschke-Moore, Children and Young People with Disability Australia CEO
- Sebastian Zagarella, People with Disability Australia CEO
- Carolyn Frohmader, Women With Disabilities Australia CEO
- Leanne Ho, Economic Justice Australia CEO
- Tim Leach, Community Legal Centres Australia CEO
- Anna Brown, Equality Australia CEO
- Fiona Guthrie, Financial Counselling Australia CEO
- Karen Cox, Financial Rights Legal Centre CEO
- Chris Povey, Justice Connect CEO
- Jonathon Hunyor, Public Interest Advocacy Centre CEO
- Stella Avramopoulos, Good Shepherd CEO
- Kasy Chambers, Anglicare Australia CEO
- Claerwen Little, UnitingCare Australia National Director
- Travers McLeod, Brotherhood of St Laurence Executive Director
- Lin Hatfield Dodds, The Benevolent Society CEO
- Toby O’Connor, St Vincent de Paul National Council of Australia CEO
- Nicole Hornsby, Baptist Care Australia Executive Director
- Lucy Manne, 350.org CEO
- Glen Klatovsky, Climate Action Network Australia CEO
- Kelly O’Shanassy Australian Conservation Foundation CEO
- Lyn Morgain, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive
- Matt Gardiner, 54 Reasons CEO
- Toni Wren, Anti-Poverty Week Executive Director
- Bill Mithen, Give Where You Live Foundation CEO
- Julie Edwards, Jesuit Social Services CEO
- Claire Robbs, Life Without Barriers CEO
- Justine Colyer, Rise Network CEO
- Leisa Sadler, Dress for Success Sydney CEO
- Mark Pearce, Volunteering Australia CEO
- Kate Colvin, Homelessness Australia CEO
- Emma Greenhalgh, National Shelter CEO
- Joel Dignam, Better Renting Executive Director
- Lorraine Dupree, Queensland Youth Housing Coalition Executive Director
- Fiona York, Housing for the Aged Action Group Executive Officer
The full and updated list of signatories in the Open Letter to the Prime Minister.
The letter concludes by saying: “We call on the Federal Government to substantially increase JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and related income support payments in the 2023 budget so as to not leave people in need behind.”