Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters is encouraging Central Victorians receiving Newstart payments to make a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the ‘Adequacy of Newstart and related payments’.
“The Newstart rate is too low. It’s so low that people are being pushed into poverty and it’s preventing people from getting work,” Ms Chesters said.
“Residents and organisations with experience of Newstart payments can now make a submission to the inquiry and share their stories, in a bid to see the rate rise.”
Submissions are sought by 13 September 2019 and the Senate Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry will report by 27 March 2020.
The committee welcomes submissions from people receiving income support payments or others affected by the payments system.
“I have met with local welfare groups and Newstart recipients across our region to learn first-hand about their struggles with the current payment, enough is enough.
“Central Victorians deserve to live in dignity whilst looking for work.
“After six years of inaction, the Liberals and Nationals are running out of excuses. The rate needs to rise.”
“I will continue to work with local community, welfare and faith based groups to build a local campaign to raise the rate,” Ms Chesters said.
There are 5628 people on Newstart in the Bendigo electorate and the average time spent on the payment is 156 weeks.
Across the state, the highest cohort on Newstart is people aged 45-55.
Leading homelessness support service and affordable housing provider Haven; Home, Safe (HHS) Chief Executive Officer Ken Marchingo AM said the majority of the organisation’s ‘rough sleepers’ were on Newstart.
In one month alone, HHS assisted 288 people Newstart in Bendigo with 192 of them classified as homeless living in inadequate or inappropriate conditions. Of this number, 99 people reported that they were sleeping rough.
“Newstart is grossly inadequate, is now, has been for years…and everyone knows it, including the people who are supposed to govern for ALL of the population,” Mr Marchingo said.
In April, the Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot showed that there was not a single rental property available in Bendigo that was affordable for a single person living on Newstart.
"If you cannot get paid work, you are relying on income support and you're living in poverty, you simply do not have enough to make ends meet.”
Mr Marchingo said that in a wealthy country like Australia, we should not accept that we cannot afford a social security safety net.
Submissions and further information can be found here: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs