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Another punitive approach to income support by Government

“Minister Tudge’s moves to tighten the rules on unemployment benefits is yet another attack on those on income support", Australian Greens Spokesperson on Family and Community Services Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

“We know that approximately 760,000 people were on Newstart in August and that 430,000 of those were defined as “jobseekers”. But ABS statistics show that the total job vacancies in the June-August quarter was 177,300.

“Minister Tudge is saying that sanctions will be toughened and “high expectations” will be set, but the jobs are simply not out there.

“We need to be supporting those looking for work – particularly the long term unemployed and older jobs seekers, rather than trying to trip them up by complicating an already underfunded system.

“In many cases it’s difficult for jobseekers to even stay in contact with Centrelink.  The number of calls to Centrelink that hit a busy signal has ballooned out to nearly 29 million for 2015-16, up from 22 million the previous year. In addition call waiting times on the main program phone lines remains high.

“Whilst the Government is vilifying those on income support, we’ve got people who can’t get through trying to do the right thing by completing their reporting requirements or trying to gain urgently needed support. 

Recently we have seen thousands of people with disability moved off the Disability Support Pension (DSP) onto the lower Newstart or Youth Allowance payment. It’s extremely concerning that the Government is making life harder for people with disability when they should be looking at positive measures that support them. We do not need to find savings with this vulnerable cohort of the community.

“The paternalistic approaches favoured by the Government do nothing but further entrench poverty.

“There are barriers to employment that urgently need addressing. The Government needs strong policy settings that include a National Poverty Plan. Tightening sanctions on job seekers won’t address the underlying causes of long-term unemployment or the simple fact that there aren’t enough jobs”.

 

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