The ACOSS/UNSW Poverty in Australia (Part 2 – Who is affected) released today shows that it is urgent that we learn the hard lessons from the policy mistakes of the past that sought to make savings out of the social safety net and condemned millions to poverty. That includes committing to keeping all income support rates above the poverty line the Greens say.
“Every time the ACOSS/UNSW Poverty in Australia report comes out it is crystal clear that the impacts of moving sole parents onto the Newstart rate, the tightening of the DSP impairment criteria and the refusal to increase Newstart are directly linked to the level of poverty in these cohorts," Senator Rachel Siewert, spokesperson on Family and Community Service said.
“Making savings out of our social safety net is unacceptable for our community and it does not work for our economy.
“Both major parties have made a habit out of targeting the social safety net for savings and it needs to stop now.
“In 2006, the Howard Government started moving sole parents from the Parenting Payment to Newstart once their youngest child turned 8 and in 2013, 80,000 sole parents (who were grandfathered) were transferred by the Gillard Government to the lower Newstart Allowance.
“Now, 44% of sole-parent households live below the poverty line.
“More than half of Newstart (now Jobseeker) and Youth Allowance recipients lived below the poverty line and let’s not forget that before this crisis almost half of people on Newstart had a disability.
“It’s unacceptable that in a country as wealthy as Australia that we have such high rates of poverty and no commitment to a strategy to address poverty or even a definition of poverty.
“The recently tabled Senate Community Affairs Committee inquiry report into Newstart found that to meet the OECD relative measure of poverty a fortnightly income of at least $1012 was needed. This is very close to what the Jobseeker payment is now with the supplement.”
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180