Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert says evidence presented to a Senate Inquiry makes it clear that the low rate of Newstart is having a negative impact on jobseekers and can undermine the efforts of jobseekers and community organisations.
Senator Siewert said the message to the Committee investigating the adequacy of payments, including Newstart, was clear.
“The Inquiry has been consistently told that Newstart is too low and acts as a disincentive to people finding work,” said Senator Siewert.
“Community organisations are stepping in to provide essentials such as food and financial services to people who are struggling on a daily basis.
“It is little wonder than under such circumstances it becomes harder to find work.
“The situation worsens for people who face multiple or complex barriers to employment. They’re falling through the cracks because employment services are unable, under the current conditions, to meet their needs.
“Measures such as improved case management for job seekers and better assessments for people when they initially engage with employment services are needed to deliver higher quality, targeted assistance.
“Once people find their way into work, it is also important to support them, in order to prevent them from cycling between income support and insecure employment.
“The overarching message today has been that there needs to be significant improvements to the system including increased payment levels and more targeted support for jobseekers.
“We know that people on Newstart can live up to $130 per week below the poverty line, and that the best way to deliver people out of poverty is through employment.
“The Greens policy to implement a $50 per week increase in financial support to job seekers is a key part of reversing this trend,” Senator Siewert concluded.