64 peak bodies and community organisations have signed a joint letter, sent by the Australian Council of Social Service today, to all parties and candidates to lift income support payments so everyone can cover the basics and invest in 25,000 social housing units each year.
Health Justice Australia, the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children, UnitingCare Australia and the Public Health Association Australia are among key organisations, allies and leading experts who have united to urge action on the two game-changing policies that would be most effective in helping help end poverty and transform the lives of millions with the least.
With both the Coalition and ALP yet to the commit to increasing these income supports, those committed to justice have come together with fresh determination to speak up on behalf of over 3 million people, including at least 750,000 children across the country experiencing poverty and inequality, every day.
The letter cites evidence that when the Federal Government temporarily doubled unemployment payments at the start of the pandemic, it halved poverty, saved over 700,000 jobs and significantly reduced rental stress and homelessness.
The joint letter calls for all parties and candidates to heed the lessons of 2020:
It calls for parties and candidates to make adequate income support and investment in social housing the key policies that the next Federal Government will implement. It specifically calls on independents to make this a key issue upon which to negotiate in forming government if there is a hung parliament.
The letter’s key asks of parties and candidates:
- Raise base rates of income support to at least $70 a day to ensure people living in poverty can cover the basics and have the resources to begin new careers, retrain and look for paid work.
- Increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 50% to better cover private rental, which has skyrocketed around Australia.
- Index payments in line with wages twice per year, as well as CPI (working-age payments are currently only indexed in line with CPI).
- Federal Government budget commitment to build at least 25,000 social housing properties each year.
- A National Housing Plan led by the Federal Government and developed in partnership with the states and territories.
- A National Homelessness strategy that addresses access to affordable housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and other issues driving homelessness, including inadequate income support, domestic and family violence, and poor access to mental health and other services.
A copy of the full Joint Letter and a full list of signatories is available here