Australia’s community sector will gather in Melbourne today to urge the Australian government to work together with civil society and business groups on a national inclusive growth plan as G20 world leaders prepare to meet in Brisbane this weekend.
“The Government appears to have developed a country growth plan for the G20 without engagement with those who will be most affected – the community,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
“We are disturbed to find that this strategy includes measures such as cutting unemployment benefits to young people. We strongly reject any measures which increase hardship and inequality in the name of growth.”
“Already we find that Australia stands alone among OECD countries in its push to deny unemployed people any income support for up to six months of every year. Elsewhere, Governments have responded to youth unemployment in a more productive and less divisive way – by extending education training and work opportunities and keeping young people engaged with their careers at a time when jobs are scarce.
“Denying people benefits will disengage those in deepest disadvantage. People can’t search for jobs and train if they have to worry about where their next meal will come from. Whether it’s a six month wait for income support or one month, this is an impoverished approach to poverty that cannot be justified.
“What we need is fair and inclusive growth, and measures that ensure that everyone in the community benefits in the long term.
“Australia’s community sector and civil society will be applying the fairness test to any growth target reached by G20 leaders this weekend. We’ll be looking for an outcome that clearly demonstrates the Leaders’ commitment to fairness by taking concrete and measurable action to reduce inequality.
“We’ve got a situation now where 2.5 million people are living below the poverty in Australia, we cannot afford measures that take us backwards in the fight against poverty and growing inequality.
“Inclusive growth must be a central focus of G20 decision making and the agenda that leaders bring to it. Unless it is, meeting the two percent growth target will be a hollow achievement and Leaders will be rightly judged as indifferent to those most in need,” Dr Goldie said.
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