The levels of the Newstart Allowance (Newstart) and a range of related payments are inadequate. Newstart has not increased in real terms in 25 years, reflecting an intention to incentivise unemployed people into employment. While this logic may hold for individuals who are between jobs for a short period of time, this is not the situation for most people who are now dependent on this payment.
A key problem with Newstart is that many people placed on this payment are not in a position to engage in employment on a full-time basis. Reasons for this include caring responsibilities for dependent children, chronic illness or disability, experiences of family violence, advanced age and poor mental health. Further, the nature of many compliance requirements – including jobactive requirements under the Targeted Compliance Framework, income management via the Cashless Debit Card, and compulsory engagement with ParentsNext providers – is punishing individuals and their families for situations beyond their control.
Women are increasingly finding themselves in a poverty trap, struggling with high housing and utility costs and low income support payments, with single mothers and older women experiencing particular hardship. Even when these cohorts find employment it is often casual or short term contract work and low paid – not enough to enable permanent movement off Newstart.
SOURCE: Maury, S. Squire, S. “Submission on the adequacy of Newstart and related payments and alternative mechanisms to determine the level of income support payments in Australia.” Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, September 2019.
The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia