ACOSS: ‘Huge relief’ at Doubling of Newstart

Filed under Letters ~ by Editor on  22 Mar 2020

Cassandra Goldie, CEO

Australian Council of Social Service

The increase to the Jobseeker Allowance, formerly known as Newstart, and the Youth Allowance Job Seeker payment, through the introduction of a temporary coronavirus payment of $275 per week, announced by the Federal Government today is welcome and absolutely vital.

As the Treasurer’s media release says:

The temporary payment “will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit for the next six months”.

We (at ACOSS) welcome this crucial doubling of Newstart and Youth Allowance for six months. Whilst we would never chose the circumstances under which these events are occurring, now more than ever, today’s announcement is important recognition that our safety net needs to be safe for everyone who needs it.

This will come as a huge relief to so many right now. This increase is vital in order to prevent more people from falling into the poverty trap.

We thank all of those on Newstart and Youth Allowance who have been sharing publicly how hard it is to get by on $40 a day. They demonstrated that the existing social safety net was broken.

The Government has finally listened to people on Newstart, Youth Allowance and many other voices, who have long called for these payments to be lifted, after 26 years without a real increase.

Just as $40 a day is not enough for people who lose their jobs now because of this crisis, it’s not enough for those who will continue to struggle to find paid work once this crisis subsides.

Whether people lose work due to coronavirus, bushfires, or simply because there is not enough jobs available at any time, we need a social safety net that works for all, at all times.

We need a permanent increase to give people certainty and we will continue to work with the Government on securing the certainty that people will need, particularly at this deeply troubling time. We need to provide confidence to reduce anxiety and fear.

We will continue to work with the Government to ensure that other health, social and economic impacts of this crisis are effectively managed, including the impact on housing.

We note that Youth Allowance Student, Austudy, Abstudy and Apprentice payments and are not included in the 6-month payment, and we will work urgently with the Government to resolve this omission. We understand that students will be entitled to the second $750 payment, but this will clearly not be enough.

We are also extremely worried about asylum seekers and others who have no access to income support right now and we will do everything we can to urge the government to do the right thing and make sure that everyone has access to social security.”



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