United call for Newstart increase at ACOSS National Conference

25 March 2013

Australia’s community welfare sector gathering in Adelaide today will make a united call for a $50 increase in the single Newstart Allowance payment in this year’s federal Budget.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie will tell the peak body’s National Conference that the much needed increase is urgent and must be funded in this last Budget before the federal election if we are serious about dealing with the worsening level of poverty in our country.

Dr Goldie will tell the gathering that, “One in eight people are living in poverty in Australia, including one in six children – this is an indictment on our nation.”

“People who are out of paid work and on the lowest payments are among those at highest risk. The Newstart payment continues to fall further behind pensions because it’s indexed only to the Consumer Price Index instead of wages.

“In last week’s indexation increases people on the Aged Pension received an $18 a week increase whereas people on Newstart only received a $2 a week increase. The single rate of Newstart remains $35 a day.

“The difference between the payments is now $150. Newstart hasn’t been increased in nearly 20 years. Now is the time to correct this record.

“In recent years we’ve seen changes to tighten eligibility for the Disability Support Pension force as many as 70,000 more people with disability onto the low Newstart payment. And recently more than 80,000 single parents and their children were dropped to the same payment and lose between $60-$100 a week.

“This get tough approach to the vulnerable members of our community has simply got to stop.

“The parliament has the most compelling responsibility to act now and urgently – business, unions, economics and tax experts, employment experts as well three parliamentary committees, the OECD and UN monitors all agree.

“What more evidence do we need? How many more people need to suffer?” Dr Goldie will say.

Strong supporters of the campaign Senators Doug Cameron and Rachel Siewert will speak at the conference. Delegates will also hear the real life stories of people trying to survive on the low payment as they look for work.

Media contact: Fernando de Freitas – 0419 626 155

ACOSS National Conference 2013 – start at 9am on Monday 25th March 2013 in Adelaide

Opening speeches:
Jay Weatherill, South Australian Premier
Jody Broun, Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

Conference sessions today include:

  • A New Start for income support payments in Australia
  • Harsh reality: Life on income support in Australia
  • Redesigning Australia’s Employment Services System
  • Pathways to employment through VET
  • The Future of Australia’s Retirement Income
  • How will the NDIS work?
  • Gender matters: How far have our workplaces come?
  • Unmet need: Access to Justice
  • Working towards better partnerships in the NT
  • “Racism. It stops with me.” Thinking, speaking and acting to stop racism in Australia

Live on A-PAC Channel 648, participate on Twitter #ACOSS2013