The South Australian Council of Social Service has welcomed the release of the interim report of the Parliament Select Committee on Poverty in South Australia. The Committee made six recommendations to alleviate poverty in South Australia, with the first being a call on the Federal Government to make a meaningful increase to the rate of the Newstart Allowance (and other base allowances) as a matter of urgency.
SACOSS made a major submission to the Committee in August, outlining the extent of poverty in South Australia and calling, first and foremost, for support for an increase in the Newstart Allowance paid to those who are looking for work.
Using ABS data and a very conservative state-based poverty line ($408 per week for a single person household), the SACOSS submission showed that in South Australia:
• Over 60,000 households were living below the poverty line, constituting 8.9% of all SA households
• 132,000 people or 8% of the population were living in poverty, including 22,000 children
• Pensions and government benefits were the main source of income for 64% of South Australian households in poverty
• Households outside of the Greater Adelaide area were twice as likely to be in poverty, than those in Adelaide.
SACOSS CEO, Ross Womersley said, “We thank the Legislative Council Committee and its Chairperson, Hon Tammy Franks MLC, for their recommendations in this report and their ongoing work to reduce poverty in South Australia. We would like to see the government address all of the recommendations in the report, but we are particularly pleased with the cross-party support for increasing the Newstart Allowance for those looking for work.”
“This is the first time in Australia that we have seen this cross-party support for increasing Newstart and we congratulate the Committee on listening to the voices of those in poverty, and putting their needs above partisan political debates.”
South Australia already has 13 local councils representing their constituents that are calling for an increase in Newstart. With the cross-party findings of this Committee, South Australia is leading the country with a pretty clear message to increase Newstart and other base level income support payments.
We are a wealthy country and it is not acceptable that people are living in poverty in our community. We need to address this now.
Adelaide is hosting the ALP national conference, so the message for that conference, and for both major political parties federally, is clear – South Australia wants to see an immediate raise in the rate of Newstart.