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Community sector stats highlight ongoing policy failures

The Australian Greens say new figures showing a sharp increase to the number of people being turned away from community support services highlights the need for substantive reforms to our social security system.

Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson for Community Services said today that the figures released by ACOSS show the impact of a widening gap between income support payments and the cost of living.

"ACOSS has found that community service organisations are facing an increasing demand for services across the spectrum - including housing, aged care, emergency relief and financial support services," Senator Siewert said today.

"Unfortunately in more and more cases, people are being turned away because demand is outstripping supply.

"Community organisations are facing increased pressure to make their resources stretch further. It's unfair that they are being used to pick up the pieces of this broken system.

"I am especially concerned that the Government and Coalition continue to discuss punitive welfare measures rather than addressing the fact that income support payments are failing to even cover the basic living costs for many people. This gap continues to widen and the impacts on the community sector will increase accordingly.

"The punitive approach being taken to income support serves only to demonise vulnerable people, despite clear evidence that our system is failing them. As a prime example, many Australians living with a disability will be forced to live on less money on Newstart Allowance under the new changes to the disability support pension.

"The overarching message is clear - the system is failing and needs fundamental reform to reverse this trend.

"This will only occur when the Government and Coalition give priority to measures which address the underlying causes of disadvantage in our community, rather than taking the easy option of punishing people," Senator Siewert concluded.

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