Prominent Australians support increase to Newstart in May Budget

ACOSS MEDIA RELEASE 1 MAY 2013

More than forty prominent Australians and leading heads of charities, unions, and national community welfare organisations, have united to sign an Open Letter to the Federal Government, calling for an increase in income support allowance payments in the May Budget.

The open letter, organised by the Australian Council of Social Service, calls on the Australian Government to increase the single rate of Newstart and other allowances and index these payments to wages, to address growing poverty in Australia.

“There is widespread concern among people from all quarters in our community that keeping Allowance payments like Newstart so low doesn’t help people into work, but merely drives them further into misery,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“This only makes life even harder for people already struggling to lift themselves up and more fully participate in our society through paid work. It is simply unacceptable that Newstart hasn’t been increased in real terms for nearly 20 years.

“We all understand the current budgetary constraints, however, this must be a priority in the coming Budget. We can afford the $1.8 billion. In fact we cannot afford not to do it.

“At present 2.2 million people live below the poverty line in Australia, including 575,000 children. The highest risk groups are people who are out of paid work and those on low income support payments.

“Increasing Newstart by $50 a week will help lift over one million people out of this despairing situation, and provide a welcome stimulus to the economy, because every single cent will be spent on mere survival.

“We urge the federal government to listen to this loud call from across the community and take the courageous step last taken by Paul Keating in 1994, and finally ensure an increase in the payments of some of most disadvantaged people in our community,” Dr Goldie concluded.

Click here to read what AYAC’s Executive Director, Andrew Cummings said about the reasons why there needs to be a $50 per week rise in Newstart and Youth Allowances on ABC News Online.

Click here to listen to an interview with Andrew and here to listen an interview with Rey Reodica (Deputy Director Youth Sector) both on ABC News Radio.

Signatories to Open Letter:

Mick Gooda
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission

Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO
Professor of Law, Australian Catholic University

Julian Burnside AO QC
Australian barrister, human rights and refugee advocate, and author

Jane Caro, 
Author and media commentator

Eva Cox AO
Professorial Fellow, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, UTS

Dr David Morawetz 
Founder and Director, Social Justice Fund

Miriam Lyons
Public policy advocate and social commentator

Les Malezer
Co-chair, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

Ged Kearney
President. Australian Council of Trade Unions

Major Kelvin Alley
National Secretary, The Salvation Army National Secretariat

Matthew Bowden
Co-Chief Executive Officer, People with Disability Australia Incorporated

Alison Brook
National Executive Officer, Relationships Australia

Kasy Chambers
Executive Director, Anglicare AustraliaNarelle Clay AM
Chairperson, Homelessness Australia

Tim Costello
Chief Executive Officer, World Vision Australia

Carol Croce
Executive Director, Community Housing Federation of Australia

Andrew Cummings
Executive Director, Australian Youth Affairs Coalition

Dr John Falzon
CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society

Carolyn Frohmader
Executive Director, Women with Disabilities Australia

Angelo Gavrielatos, 
Federal President, Australian Education Union

Dr Cassandra Goldie
CEO, Australian Council of Social Service

Steve Hackett
Executive Director, Family Relationships Services Australia

Lesley Hall
CEO, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

Toby Hall
CEO, Mission Australia

Lin Hatfield Dodds, 
National Director, UnitingCare Australia

Prof Karen Healy
President, Australian Association of Social Workers

John Heath
CEO, SANE Australia

Anne Hollonds 
CEO, Benevolent Society

Rob Lake,
Executive Director, Australian Federation of Aids Organisations

Caroline Lambert, 
Executive Officer,  YWCA Australia

Claerwen Little
Director, UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families

Cedric Manen
Chair, Settlement Council of Australia

Ron Mell
Chief Executive Officer, YMCA AUSTRALIA

Michael Moore
CEO, Public Health Association of Australia

Paul O’Callaghan 
Executive Director, Catholic Social Services Australia

Maree O’Halloran AM
President, National Welfare Rights Network

Adrian Pisarski
Executive Officer, Queensland Shelter Inc. Chair, National Shelter

Marc Purcell 
Executive Director, Australian Council for International Development (ACFID)

Frank Quinlan
CEO, Mental Health Council of Australia

Bishop Christopher Saunders 
Chairman, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

Michael Smith
National Convenor, National Association of Community Legal Centres Inc

Louise Tarrant 
National Secretary, United Voice

Lee Thomas
President, Australian Nursing Federation

David Thompson
CEO, Jobs Australia

Rebecca Vassarotti
Executive Director, YWCA Canberra

Jo Watson
Executive Director, National Association of People with HIV Australia