Social Futures is adding its voice to the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) Raise the Rate campaign, asking the Australian Government to increase unemployment benefits to alleviate poverty.
More than 750,000 Australians live on less than $40.00 a day on income support scheme Newstart. At $278 per week, Newstart allowance is $160 per week below the poverty-line (ACOSS 2018).
CEO of Social Futures, Tony Davies says the Newstart Allowance has not risen in real terms since Paul Keating raised the rate by $2.95 a week in 1994. “In the 24 years since, the cost of living has increased exponentially, and we are putting job seekers and some of our most vulnerable Australians at extreme risk” he says.
“We cannot expect people to contribute meaningfully to society when they struggle day to day with basic necessities.”
“In order to get by we see people neglecting their health, being unable to provide educational opportunities for themselves and their children, and being unable to participate in their local communities. This is not the fair go Australia it once was” says Davies.
“As income inequality increases, so does division within our communities. Urgent action is needed to rectify this very unfair situation, and with a Federal election looming we want to see this issue form part of all of the major parties election platforms” urges Davies.
A report by ACOSS found that the wealthiest 20% of Australians own nearly two thirds of all wealth. The highest 1% receives as much in a fortnight ($23,400 in disposable income) as the lowest 5% receives in a year.
“It is time to remedy this inequality and raise the rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance” says Davies.
To support the Raise the Rate Campaign go to: www.acoss.org.au/raisetherate/joinus/
The United Nations International Anti-Poverty Day is on 17 October with Anti-Poverty Week running from 14-20 October.