ac.care has backed a national campaign to raise social security payments to counteract the growing burden of increased cost of living pressures.
The country agency’s call for greater support for the most vulnerable in our community coincides with Anti-Poverty Week.
“A fair society is one where everyone can live a dignified life and participate in their community,” ac.care homelessness and community services general manager Trish Spark said.
“People need adequate support while they study, look for work, care for their loved ones and support themselves if they have a disability.”
ac.care is taking part in the Raise the Rate national day of action today and will host a free community barbecue lunch at its Mount Gambier Community Centre as part of efforts to raise awareness of the issue.
Ms Spark said Newstart and related payments were now so low they trapped people in poverty.
She rejected claims by some politicians and commentators that work was the best form of welfare.
“Welfare exists explicitly to assist people who don’t have a job,” she said.
CALL FOR ACTION: ac.care homelessness and community services manager Trish Spark has backed the national campaign to raise the rate of Newstart and other social security payments to lift people out of poverty. Clients of the service have created signs now on display outside the Mount Gambier Community Centre highlighting how low incomes impact on their lives.
“We must therefore be focused on whether social security payments are enough to live on and properly support a person while they look for work, particularly for people who have barriers to getting back into employment and thus need more time.”
Ms Spark said social security payments should be at a level that took into account the needs of people who cannot work, students engaged in full-time learning and people caring for children and other loved ones.
“The current Newstart rate is not enough for a single person to pay rent alone and then there are unavoidable utility bills and food on top of that,” she said.
Ms Spark said staff at ac.care witnessed the impact of insufficient incomes on individuals and families in the Limestone Coast.
“The children of families on Newstart are not able to participate in school excursions, sport or other community activities, which causes them to become isolated from their peers, adding to disadvantage they already experience,” she explained.
The Raise the Rate campaign for an immediate increase to Newstart and associated allowances by at least $75 a week for single people has been joined by various agencies.
ac.care and other agencies have also backed the Anglicare Australia Network’s call for creation of an independent Social Security Commission, tasked with regularly reviewing evidence on the cost of living, including housing, and adjusting government income payments accordingly.
The ac.care event will be held from 11.30am to 1.30pm at 22-24 Ferrers Street with the public welcome to attend.