The federal election campaign is a time for our political leaders to set an agenda for a nation where all Australians have equal access to services are not excluded because of social or economic disadvantage, says ACOSS.
“As the economy recovers many Australians are being left behind. This is not a universally lucky country and too many of us struggle with unemployment and poverty,” said Tony Westmore, Acting CEO, Australian Council of Social Service.
“Despite better economic conditions, many Australians are still finding it difficult to find work. The number of people who rely on unemployment payments long-term has risen by 30% over the last two years and this figure will continue to increase.
“Entrenched unemployment has a devastating impact on the health, welfare and relationships of individuals and communities. There are still very high levels of unemployment among our young people, our older workers and our low skilled workers.
“We must commit to supporting unemployed Australians into work through programs such as ACOSS’ proposal for a paid work experience scheme which would equip job seekers with on-the-job work skills.
“Also adding to pressure on budgets is the escalating cost of housing in Australia. With rents in major cities rising significantly over the last year, and stock in low supply, high housing costs put huge pressures on household budgets.
“Nearly five million Australians can’t get the dental care they need when they need it. Poor dental health affects general health and contributes to poor self image, reduces social interactions and limits employment prospects.
“ACOSS supports caution and restraint in Government spending. We also believe that Australia can afford to alleviate poverty and disadvantage. ACOSS calls on our political leaders to strengthen Australia’s social inclusion through equity and fairness in the upcoming campaign.”
Media Contact: Clare Cameron, ACOSS – 0419 626 155