As Parliament returns today on the Monday of Anti-Poverty Week, the Australian Council of Social Service is calling on the Government to take the single most effective step to reduce the persistent rates of poverty in our wealthy country by increasing Newstart.
From Parliament House in Canberra today, ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“The majority of the Senate, all lower house crossbenchers and the Opposition all support an increase to Newstart, along with more than 70 per cent of the community and a wide-range of organisations, including the Council of Small Business Australia, the Business Council of Australia and the Country Women’s Association.
“We’ve also heard from members of the Government that they also support raising Newstart, which has not had a real increase in 25 years, while living costs have gone through the roof.
“This Anti-Poverty Week, it’s time for the Government to get on board and finally fix the country’s major fairness failure.
“By increasing Newstart, the Government can act on poverty while providing much-needed economic stimulus, creating jobs, including in regional areas.
“Raising the rate will get Newstart working by allowing people to focus on their futures rather than having to be totally consumed with their current situation of financial crisis.
“People on Newstart include young people working to get their foot in the door of the competitive job market, people with disability, single parents of school-age children and older people confronting age discrimination. They are working hard to break into employment.
“Australia needs to raise the rate of allowances so people can focus on getting into employment rather than risk falling through the gaps into entrenched poverty.
“It’s not right that in a country as rich as Australia, more than 3 million people (13.2%) live in poverty in Australia, including 739,000 children.
“Raising the rate would get people through tough times and it is the most effective way we can reduce the persistent rates of poverty in our wealthy country,” Dr Goldie said.