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Greens call on the Senate to act urgently to address poverty during Anti-Poverty Week

 Every year Anti-Poverty week rolls around, with report after report revealing the horrendous impacts of poverty in this country.

 “Research from peak social services body ACOSS has shown that 3 million Australians live in poverty, 731,000 of them children. Despite 25 years of economic growth child poverty has increased, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

 “The Foodbank Hunger Report revealed this week that the number of people in my home state of WA who got help from the charity increased by 44 percent. 13,000 people were turned away from the service.

 “A new report by the Salvation Army has found insecure and underemployment is driving an increasing number of workers into poverty, with people going into debt just to afford the basics. We are going down the road of a group of working poor in this country.

 “Research from the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne recently released found that inadequate income support payments mean that the cycle of intergenerational poverty will be almost impossible to break.

 “Due to lower government income support payments and lower payment indexation many single parent families are considerably worse off as a direct result of policy change enacted by various Governments since 2005. 

 “We have so much to do to address poverty, and a commitment to reducing poverty by at least 50 per cent by 2030 will help to do this.

 "A key step in any strategy to address poverty must be raising the miserably low Newstart and Youth Allowance rates.

 “We know that outcomes for everyone are worse in societies with high levels of income inequality. It was extremely disappointing that the Senate did not support my Bill to increase Newstart by $110 a fortnight in August. The Government and the ALP refused to take a small but concrete step to addressing poverty.

 “The Government says that they care about the economy, they are focussed on making energy prices more “affordable”, but if they were truly committed to making life better for people on low incomes and improving the economy they would increase Newstart as a matter of urgency.

 “This Government must stop vilifying people accessing the social safety net. Listen to business and leading accounting firms that have repeatedly called for an increase to the Newstart and Youth Allowance Payments.

 "This afternoon I will be seeking support from my colleagues in the Senate for my motion that calls on the Government to commit to reducing poverty by at least 50 per cent by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

 “It’s not good enough that in a country such as ours that we have children living in poverty and I hope the Senate will recognise this.

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