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Community advocacy has made its mark on the Budget debate

May 8, 2018, 20:32 PM by Maiy Azize

“There are some bright spots in this year’s Budget – especially for older people – but it’s a mixed bag,” Anglicare Australia Executive Director, Kasy Chambers said today.

“The changes to aged care have come about because of sustained community advocacy. So has the recognition that people on low incomes are being left behind.  But we’re still seeing inaction on key issues like housing affordability and income support.

Good news for older Australians
“Right now, there are 100,000 people waiting for aged care packages. The creation of 14,000 new home care places will offer some very welcome relief to a sector that is under pressure, and for some of the people in these interminable lists.

“This is a start to help people age at home – but more needs to be done. We know that affordable housing is essential for older people when they start to need care and support.

“The aged care sector has been calling for action to support home care for years. It’s clear that their advocacy has made its mark and delivered real results for older people,” Ms Chambers said.

No action on affordable housing
“The Government is not listening to the community on housing affordability. We must keep the pressure up,” Ms Chambers said.

“Just last week, Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Snapshot found that three out of 67,000 private rentals across Australia were affordable for a single person on Newstart. Pensioners, single parents, and even those working full-time on the minimum wage didn’t fare much better.

“What we needed was an urgent investment in affordable rentals for people in need – and a fairer tax system to make housing more affordable. These calls are still unanswered.

“Of course, many people on low incomes will welcome tax relief – but at the end of the day, tax cuts are not enough to help people put a roof over their heads,” Ms Chambers said.

A lost chance to raise Newstart
“We have also seen a huge change in the debate on income support in recent weeks. Again we see the vital role of community advocacy in reinvigorating the debate on Newstart.

“Support payments for job seekers have become a poverty trap. They’re so low that paying rent means you can’t then afford to buy food, clothing, transport or go to the doctor. That cycle is locking people out of work.

“This Budget has continued to freeze income support at dangerously low levels. It has missed the chance to act on the business and community sectors’ calls to increase payments as a matter of urgency.

“After weeks of national debate and high levels of public support for increasing Newstart, this Budget has squibbed the chance to take action.

“Now is the time to create an independent commission to set income support payments – that’s the fairest way to answer the community’s call for decent income support,” Ms Chambers said.