Bendigo Rallies for a Rise in the Newstart Rate

Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters MP will gather with community members, welfare groups and organisations at Bendigo’s Sidney Myer Place to call for a rise in the Newstart Rate.

“We are calling on the Liberal National Government to increase the Newstart allowance to deliver relief from poverty and help people get into work,” Ms Chesters said.

“The response from the Bendigo community has been overwhelmingly supportive for a rise in the Newstart rate.

“Today, I am also officially launching the ‘Raise the Rate Alliance’.

“This team of local organisations has seen the struggles of residents on Newstart first hand and agree that the current rate is not enough for people to make ends meet, let alone find a job,” Chesters said.

The alliance includes:

  • Haven; Home, Safe
  • Bendigo Family and Financial Services
  • Eaglehawk Community House
  • Long Gully Community House
  • Loddon Mallee Homelessness Network
  • Wesnet
  • Salvation Army Bendigo
  • Bendigo Foodshare
  • Loddon Mallee Women’s Health Network
  • Arc Justice 
  • Bendigo Trades Hall 

Local Newstart recipient, Sharron Jamison will speak at the rally alongside Lisa Chesters, Bendigo Foodshare, The Salvation Army and other Newstart recipients.

“I am an educated 61 year old woman with tertiary qualifications and work history in the teaching industry. After taking some time out of the workforce to care for my ill husband, I’ve found that it’s increasingly difficult to find a workplace that recognises my skills,” Ms Jamison said.

“I’m now being forced to live in a share house and sell my furniture to make ends meet because my Newstart payment is not enough to live off. The rate must rise.”

On Friday, the Newstart payment was indexed by less than 24 cents per day, or $1.65 per week.

The indexation takes effect in the same week in which the Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force figures show that unemployment rose to a 16 month high of 716,800.

Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg say that the best form of welfare is a job. Yet underemployment is at a record high and one in five Newstart recipients have a job, but do not receive either enough hours or income to get them off the payment.

“It is clear that the current rate of Newstart is so low that it is stopping people from getting work,” Ms Chesters said.

People are unable to afford the basics and essentials, let alone items that they need to help them get back to work – like transport costs, clothes for job interviews, or internet bills.

“Everyone should be able to afford the basics, we must raise the rate,” Ms Chesters said.