Everyone in Queensland deserves to live a good life, but many people on low incomes don’t have enough money to afford the basics. QCOSS believes accessing an adequate social safety net is a critical part of a civil society and supports social cohesion. Allowing Newstart and other payments to fall behind cost-of-living increases further entrenches poverty and disadvantage, unfairly targets people who may be experiencing vulnerability and undermines the system intended to support them.
Newstart allowance puts people receiving it below the poverty line and has not been increased in real terms for more than 25 years. At the same time the basic costs of living have significantly increased. As a result, individuals already facing challenges are being left further behind. The Australian Government must maintain an income support system that is strengths-based and supports access, inclusion, equity and fairness.
We need to strengthen Australia’s social safety net to help eliminate disadvantage and poverty by increasing income support, rather than cutting and restricting it. QCOSS believes that an immediate ‘catch-up’ increase in Newstart and related payments of at least $95 per week has strong community support and is long overdue.
Meaningful engagement in community is a critical element of people’s wellbeing. The safety net must not only include adequate payments to support living but should also provide the support needed for individuals to participate in their community in the best possible way.
We must end the stigmatisation of people accessing income support as ‘undeserving’ and in need of punitive motivation to achieve self-reliance and a work ethic and instead ensure everybody is able to access the supports they need to live a meaningful life.
We call on the government to raise the single rate of Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments.