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Tuesday, 15 May 2012 14:43

Living in Poverty

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Gradually attitudes changed as people saw the faces and felt the pain - of a son, a daughter, a niece, nephew or neighbour - as they lost confidence and hope in their  vain search for employment.

However, attitude change did not translate into economic support for those without jobs.  An unemployed single person exists on a Newstart payment of $486.80 per fortnight.  (A pensioner receives $689.00 – $135 more)

“Sharing the Wealth of the Lucky Country” was the theme of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) Annual Conference held in March this year.  Cassandra Goldie, the CEO of ACOSS, in an address to the Conference, stated that people can no longer exist on Allowances like Newstart payments.  These payments have fallen further and further below the Poverty Line.  Today over 600,000 people are on unemployment payments and one in two has been without paid work for over a year.  “Prolonged unemployment has a devastating and demoralising impact on unemployed people and their families.”

• In February this year, at the first caucus meeting, labour backbenchers urged the Government to make lifting the unemployment payments a priority for 2012.

• The Greens are calling for a $50 a week increase to the Newstart Allowance which has not been adequately indexed since 1980.

• The same action is supported by Ms O’Halloran, president of the National Welfare Rights Network who cited the OECD’s  warning that Australia’s unemployment benefit was so low as to “raise issues about its effectiveness” in enabling people to find work or to study.”  (SMH Jan 6 2012)

With such momentum growing it was a devastating blow to learn that the new Labour budget handed down 8 May 2012 has:
• ignored calls for an increase to Newstart 
• pushed 100 000 single parents onto this lower benefit.

To push people from the parenting payment onto Newstart at a time when jobs are being lost and 600,000 unemployed are unsuccessfully looking for work is cruel and unjust.  The jobs are just not there!

We urgently need to lobby for this Budget measure to be abandoned and to support the Greens in calling for an increase to the Newstart Allowance.

Further reading

Swan slights jobless by Paul O'Callaghan, Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Australia, Eureka St, 9 May 2012


ACT NOW

Write to
The Treasurer - The Hon Wayne Swan MP
Fax: (02) 6273 3420
Address: PO Box 6022
House of Representatives Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations - The Hon Bill Shorten MP
Fax: (02) 6273 4115
Address: PO Box 6022
House of Representatives Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600

Your Federal Member of the Labor and Green Parties

Local Labor and Green movements


For Reflection

The dignity of work

“And the ‘poor’ appear under various forms; they appear in various places and at various times; in many cases they appear as a result of the violation of the dignity of human work: either because the opportunities for human work are limited as a result of the scourge of unemployment, or because a low value is put on work and the rights that flow from it, especially the right to a just wage and to the personal security of the worker and his or her family.
Pope John Paul II (1981), Laborem exercens, Encyclical Letter on Human Work, n. 8

# Have we become accepting of the fact that we will always have a percentage of our population who will be long term unemployed?
 
# Australia is a signatory to the Declaration on Human Rights and one such Right is the right to work.

# Michael Flanagan, a research Officer at the Centre for Full Employment and Equity at the University of Newcastle, challenged my lobbying for an increase to the unemployment benefits.  The Centre for Full Employment and Equity strongly believes that because Australia is a signatory to the Declaration on Human rights then the Government has a right and responsibility to creatively seek ways to ensure that every Australian citizen has a job.  The Centre’s commitment is that Australia should have zero unemployment.

Sister Carmel Hanson rsj, member of CRA's Justice Network Reference Group