Vinnies: ‘No start’ on Newstart

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The meagre amount for Newstart and Youth Allowance keeps many Australians in chronic poverty PHOTO: CNS/David Gray, Reuters

The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia is calling for a 25 per cent increase of Newstart and Youth Allowance payments. For a single recipent this would mean an increase from approximately $279 a week to $349 a week – an increase of $70.

The statement comes in light of Anti-Poverty Week and the St Vincent de Paul Society’s report on 15 October, Raise the Rate: Case Studies, a document citing academic research and 18 individual case examples of Australians struggling on current Newstart payments.

“The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council is highlighting case studies that demonstrate the extent and severity of hardship faced by people living on Newstart,” wrote Claire Victory, president of the St Vincent De Paul Society, in the report. “Long-term unemployed people represent just over three-quarters of all Newstart recipients.
“And over half of people on Newstart and almost two thirds of people on Youth Allowance are living in poverty.”

Newstart and Youth Allowance amounts have not been significantly adjusted since 1994 and do not take into account 21st century living conditions.The report found that the biggest issue keeping Australians in poverty were housing costs and medical expenses.

“We cannot address poverty and ultimately support people to get meaningful quality long term work without addressing the chronic housing shortage,” wrote Claire.

The report also highlighted that the overly competitive job market is actively excluding many in long-term unemployment from accessing basic jobs.

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