In response to today’s findings, in the middle of Social Inclusion Week, from the Newstart Inquiry, St Vincent de Paul Society National Council Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon, said that forcing people to live on $35 a day was one of the most powerful means of achieving social exclusion, especially when combined with a lack of support programmes to help people find work:
“We are steadfast in our resolve that the Newstart payment is too low to live on either in the short term or the long term. Life on this payment is a daily battle waged from below the poverty line and must be increased as a matter of urgency.
“As it stands the rate of the Newstart Allowance acts as a barrier to participation. When you can’t afford the necessities of life it becomes so much harder to find work.
“People on Newstart are effectively denied adequate social security. You don’t achieve social inclusion when you take away social security. You don’t build people up by putting them down,” Dr Falzon said.
National President, Anthony Thornton said the St Vincent de Paul Society has been a strong supporter of the government’s social inclusion agenda but that now was the time for urgent action on increasing Newstart by $50 a week.
“It’s very hard to participate in the workforce when you cannot afford to participate in society. Unemployment usually results in social isolation. We see this all the time when we visit people who are unemployed. We need to break this cycle of isolation if we are to see genuine results in workforce participation,” Mr Thornton said.
The St Vincent de Paul Society made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the adequacy of the Newstart Allowance earlier this year and Dr Falzon addressed the inquiry in August.