ACOSS strongly commends Senate call to urgently act to end poverty in Australia

ACOSS strongly commends the Senate Community Affairs References Committee’s call to urgently act to end poverty in Australia including to revisit the rate of income support – a first priority for tackling poverty.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie has called on the government to act urgently on the committee’s report into the extent and nature of poverty by immediately raising the rate of income support payments.

“The committee heard overwhelming evidence about the depth of poverty in Australia and just how dehumanising it is to live with poverty-level income support payments,” Dr Goldie said.

“People cannot survive on $54 a day, the rate of JobSeeker, and are forced to choose between eating, buying medicine and paying the bills.

“ACOSS welcomes the committee’s recommendation to take urgent action so that people are not living in poverty. We know that the first priority for ending poverty is to lift income support payments so they are adequate to meet the costs of living.

“We must urgently raise the rate of JobSeeker and related payments to the pension rate of at least $78 a day.”

The report made 14 recommendations including reform of mutual obligations in light of last year’s inquiry into Workforce Australia Employment Services.

We urge the government to heed this call and immediately suspend automated payment suspensions. This unfair system sees people have their payments suspended for missing an appointment with their employment service provider that they did not know about.

“ACOSS thanks senators from across the political aisle for their commitment to ending poverty in Australia,” Dr Goldie said.

“We know the damage poverty-level income support payments do. Recent ACOSS surveys show nine in 10 people on income support are experiencing housing stress while three in four skip meals or reduce their food intake.

“In a country as wealthy as Australia, poverty is a choice – our government’s choice. The solutions are clear. It’s time now to act.”