Could you live on $39 per day?

Newstart and related payments including Youth Allowance, have not increased in real terms in 24 years. 

They are now so low people cannot afford basic necessities like housing, meals, bills and transport, even if they get Rent Assistance.

We need to Raise the Rate so everyone has a roof over their head and food on the table.

Because it’s impossible to look for paid work if you’re homeless and hungry.

“If I had extra money each fortnight I would be actually able to feed myself three meals a day instead of just my son. That’s what kind of a situation the government has put us into.”

The cost of housing is way too high and so is the price of food and electricity. Everything is constantly increasing except Newstart.” 

Actions you can take to Raise the Rate

  • Sign up to the Raise the Rate campaign.
  • Print out the Raise the Rate logo and post it on social media saying that you support Raise the Rate!
  • Write to your local Federal Member of Parliament and call on them to Raise the Rate.
  • Write a letter to your local newspaper calling for the rate of unemployment and student payments to be raised. 
  • Lobby your local council to get them to pass a motion calling on the Federal Government to Raise the Rate.
  • Share this page on facebook or twitter! 

  • Newstart has not increased in 24 years (in real terms).

  • The single rate of Newstart is just $278 per week, which is $175 per week below the pension.

  • 647,000 people receive the single rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance (Other).

  • More than half (55%) of the people on Newstart Allowance live below the poverty line.

  • There is only 1 job available for every 8 people looking for paid work or more hours. (ABS 2018). That is why 70% of people receiving Newstart have been unemployed for 12 months or more.
  • Single people on Newstart receive an extra $67 per week if they rent privately. However, there are just 28 private rentals Australia-wide affordable for a single unemployed person (Anglicare 2017).

  • Buying the basics like housing, food, transport, health, energy, and clothing costs a single person a minimum of $433 per week (UNSW 2017).

  • Over 3 million people live in poverty in Australia, of whom 731,000 are children. 40% of those children are in single parent families (ACOSS 2016).

  • Spending on the Age Pension is the largest area of social security expenditure (40%) while Newstart and related payments is just 7%.

“If Newstart was increased? Rent = $320. Therefore, $50 more = pay for food and medications. $100 more could keep the electricity on. No winter heating or car or buying shoes but I would be able to keep a roof over my head and cook and wash.”

“My mum on Newstart should have enough to survive, not just be alive. “

“My dad died and I couldn’t afford to get a headstone for three years.”

Why we need to Raise the Rate

  • How many meals do people have to skip, how many people need to lose their homes, how many children have to go without before the government decides to raise the rate?
  • The Newstart Allowance has not increased in real terms in 24 years. But living costs, including housing, food, transport and essentials, have drastically increased.
  • Every day people are making choices between paying for bills and pills, food and rent. Many people are having to rely on charity just to feed themselves and their children.
  • The low rates of payment are acting as a very real barrier to people re-entering the labour market.
  • Raising the rate will lift children and parents out of poverty and increase their choices.
  • It’s time government made new choices, to put a roof over every head and a meal on every table.
  • It’s time to raise the rate.

We need a ‘robust and targeted welfare safety net that ensures displaced workers don’t fall into poverty while finding their feet. This could include increasing the inadequate Newstart allowance.”
Jennifer Westacott, Business Council of Australia, 2017

“There remain real questions about the adequacy of the unemployment benefit.”
Dr Ken Henry, ­National Australia Bank, 2018


“While the minimum wage may be adequate for some low-paid workers, this is clearly not the case for Newstart Allowance, which is woefully inadequate. An increase well in excess of $50 per week is urgently needed.”

Professor Peter Saunders, UNSW, 2017

“Genuine reform must include a willingness to increase the base Newstart and pension benefits to at least an accepted poverty line.”
John Hewson AM, 2017

“What Australia has failed to do with unemployment benefits for virtually a quarter of a century now is verging on a national embarrassment.”
Chris Richardson, Deloitte Access Economics, 2018

“There are single people out there on their own who don’t get enough support from government and they are living in poverty.”
Heather Ridout AO, Australian Super, 2018

Raising the rate will:

  • lift thousands of people on the lowest income support payments out of poverty
  • improve people’s prospects of finding decent paid work
  • reduce the huge gap between allowance payments and pensions
  • improve social and economic participation
  • strengthen local communities

Join us.

It’s time to Raise the Rate.