By Sam Shetler | 19 August 2019
Yesterday the Anti-Poverty Network SA voted unanimously on our 2019 Anti-Poverty Week conference title.
Our conference title or headline will read: One Big Raise: Dignity For All.
Today a headline in The Australian reads, ‘Vinnies Want Newstart Rate Increase for over 55s.’
The contrast between The Australian headline and our conference headline couldn’t be starker.
Vinnies CEO Toby oConnor said, “Perhaps it’s wise for the government to look at staggering the income support for those folks who are in the upper (age) range…They should be treated separately from the younger folk…”
Vinnies CEO should know, or be made aware, that his remarks play into the hands of the government’s divide and conquer strategy and the media’s intergenerational culture clash narrative.
The best chance we have of winning a raise to Newstart is to stick together.
In fact, the best chance we have of winning an increase to the rate (and increase in access to) disability and old age Pensions is if we stick together.
Surely Vinnies doesn’t want young people or disabled people on Newstart left behind languishing in poverty.
Instead, we need: One Big Raise: Dignity For All.
UPDATE: Vinnies MEDIA RELEASE
19 August 2019
Newstart should be increased for ALL recipients
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia CEO Toby oConnor today reiterated the Society’s support for an across the board increase of $75 for all recipients of Newstart.
Emphasising the Society’s position following comments published in The Australian today, Mr oConnor said while people aged over 55 face particular challenges to finding work in a tight job market, no particular group of unemployed people was more or less vulnerable than another.
“Anybody living on Newstart faces overwhelming challenges including to secure housing, affordable energy and basic weekly grocery bills.
“And the longer people are on Newstart, the more entrenched their poverty becomes.
“Our commitment to human dignity means we are concerned for the wellbeing of all people who rely on Newstart to live.
“A growing number of the Coalition are voicing concerns about the inadequacy of Newstart. Perhaps this is a signal that there is a willingness to empathise not only with older unemployed people, as we have seen in recent weeks, but with all recipients of Newstart.
“There are around 180,000 available jobs and 750,000 unemployed people in Australia.
“Many people with jobs are just one pay packet away from financial crisis. If they are made redundant or they are unable to work, they have nothing to tide them over.
“The inadequate level of Newstart is a significant barrier to employment as people are unable to afford the cost of finding and keeping stable employment once they have attempted to meet basic living costs.
“We know from feedback from St Vincent de Paul Conferences in local communities across Australia that people on Newstart are increasingly likely to seek help with the payment of energy bills and food.
“While the government refuses to move on this crucial issue despite calls for an increase from within its own ranks, organisations such as the St Vincent de Paul Society are using resources to help give a hand up to an increasing number of Newstart recipients in order to survive,” Mr oConnor said.