St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia Chief Executive Toby O’Connor has this week reiterated the Society’s support for an across the board increase of $75 for all recipients of Newstart.
Emphasising the Society’s position following comments published in The Australian, Mr O’Connor said while people aged over 55 face particular challenges to finding work in a tight job market, no particular group of unemployed people was more or less vulnerable than another.
“Anybody living on Newstart faces overwhelming challenges including to secure housing, affordable energy and basic weekly grocery bills,” Mr O’Connor said.
“And the longer people are on Newstart, the more entrenched their poverty becomes.
“Our commitment to human dignity means we are concerned for the wellbeing of all people who rely on Newstart to live.
“A growing number of the Coalition are voicing concerns about the inadequacy of Newstart. Perhaps this is a signal that there is a willingness to empathise not only with older unemployed people, as we have seen in recent weeks, but with all recipients of Newstart.
There are about 180,000 available jobs and 750,000 unemployed people in Australia, he said.
“Many people with jobs are just one pay packet away from financial crisis. If they are made redundant or they are unable to work, they have nothing to tide them over.
“The inadequate level of Newstart is a significant barrier to employment as people are unable to afford the cost of finding and keeping stable employment once they have attempted to meet basic living costs,” Mr O’Connor added.
“We know from feedback from St Vincent de Paul conferences in local communities across Australia that people on Newstart are increasingly likely to seek help with the payment of energy bills and food.
“While the government refuses to move on this crucial issue despite calls for an increase from within its own ranks, organisations such as the St Vincent de Paul Society are using resources to help give a hand up to an increasing number of Newstart recipients in order to survive,” Mr O’Connor concluded.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul consists of 60,000 members and volunteers who operate on the ground through more than 1000 conferences located in individual parishes across Australia.