Anglicare Australia’s Executive Director, Kasy Chambers, has described the new government’s possible move on simplifying welfare as a real opportunity and offered to be part of the working it through.
Reports in national media that the new government is hoping to simplify the income support system are a positive sign,” Ms Chambers said today.
“But the key issue is not simply the shift of so many single parents onto the lower Newstart earlier this year. It is very clear that basic income support is inadequate and that people out of work, with and without children, are falling further behind other Australians, whether they have just been moved off the parenting allowance or not. We need a fair and adequate payments system for those families and others needing income support.
“Prime Minister Tony Abbott has promised that no one will be left behind by his government. But research by Anglicare Australia and NATSEM in 2012 found that people on Newstart spend 121% of their income each week - meaning they are going backwards.
“Todays’ media reports point to support across the welfare sector for a more efficient system, offering government an opportunity to take a long term approach.
“I’m asking government to take advice from people on benefits and those of us across the sector who work closely with people living in hardship and poverty, to learn how best to ensure welfare supports those who need it most.
“Welfare benefits should provide an income which neither deters people from seeking employment and participation opportunities, nor forces them into lives well below the poverty line. Twice in the past few years, when we asked through a national survey, Australians overwhelmingly supported an arm’s length process to determine what a fair income support would be. That might be the way this government could take decisions about payment levels out of the political arena.”