I am inviting you to join me in a conversation
Let me start by stating that I believe that Regional, Rural & Remote Students and Job Seekers are at a disadvantage
and that Centrelink Income Support Payments are not sufficient to survive on.
Who would like to share their experience?
This conversation started with a phone call I received from a concerned mother yesterday, she lives in in regional South Australia.
She told me that her son didn’t eat yesterday because he could not afford to.
Sadly, he is not alone.
About her son:
1. Young man, not an academic, but very clever in the practical sense
2. Staying on at school in a ‘traditional’ education environment not for him
3. He secured an apprenticeship in Adelaide – good on him - We need tradespeople!
4. Applied to Centrelink for income support
5. It was determined he does not meet the criteria to receive Centrelink’s Independent rate of Youth Allowance
6. Reason: has not been able to secure work of at least 15 hours per week over 2 years
7. Why: No jobs in his town. Labour Market severely depressed. Not his doing.
8. Parents income is considered to be average by current definition but too high for him to qualify for Youth Allowance as a dependent.
9. Parents, without any assistance and at significant personal financial burden, secured accommodation, pay rent, assist with cost of living and still he goes without food!
Country and regional youth are highly disadvantaged if they are required to move away from home to study, undertake an apprenticeship or other form of vocational training.
The costs associated with regional families assisting their children to move away in order to study/work are more than just financial.
The emotional and psychological impacts are as equally concerning and very real.
I am aware that the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has passed a Bill,Social Security Amendment (Supporting More Australians into Work) Bill 2013 [Provisions].
This Bill received assent in August 2012 and while the mediocre changes are welcomed this has not gone far enough.
Increases to the rates of income support payments are critical to lifting many Australians out of poverty and giving them a real chance a securing and holding down paid work.
In reading the background to the Bill I was alarmed to read that Coalition Senators did not do not agree with findings in the Majority Report.
This is an excerpt:
COALITION SENATORS' ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
1.1 Coalition Senators do not agree with finding in the Majority Report that the base rate of Newstart Allowance can be increased given the current economic climate.
1.2 Coalition Senators commend to the Government the recommendations contained in the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee Report on the adequacy of Newstart Allowance and other matters. Coalition Senators note the References Committee's finding that scarce resources should be targeted at programs that assist payment recipients to transition to independence. This is because the best form of welfare is a job.
For further reading I encourage you to go to:
I am, however, happy to report that the Greens’ additional comments were more detailed and in support of an increase.
So...Does that mean both of our major parties believe that the current level of income support is adequate??? Surely not.?
Again I applaud ACOSS and SACOSS for their continued fight and lobbying for increases in the rate of Centrelink Income Support Payments.
If South Australians back 'A Partnership with Purpose' at this year’s Federal Election we too will advocate for an immediate increase in the rates of income support.
I find it very distressing that the Government has found/will find ‘savings’ to support a cruel and punitive measure to process asylum seekers off shore (and spend millions on advertising this policy shift) but are not willing to support some of the most disadvantaged in our community in an effort to move them from welfare to work.
After all, when you work, you pay taxes and can contribute to our society and to our economy on so many levels.
More importantly we will have a new generation of role models who can model a positive work ethic and be productive and proud to participate in our communities.