Contributed from South Australia
The Anti-Poverty Network in South Australia, with the support of the South Australia Council of Social Service and Uniting Communities, is engaged in a campaign to force the government to raise the Newstart Allowance for the unemployed.
Emphasis has been put on building a grass roots campaign based on the participation of local jobseekers. One of their activities has involved calling and emailing local councilors and meeting with them and majors to get support for the raising of the Newstart Allowance.
This began to bear fruit, when in August, City of Port Adelaide Enfield became the first endorse the call for raising Newstart. Since then, six others have joined. They are Streaky Bay, Kangaroo Island, Copper Coast and Clare Valley, along with two of the state’s most populous councils, the City of Onkaparinga in the far-southern suburbs of Adelaide, and the City of Playford in the far-northern suburbs of Adelaide.
The allowance, at $269 per week is $160 per week below the poverty-line, which is less than 41 percent of the minimum wage and less than 18 percent of the average wage. It has not been raised in real terms for 23 years.
The campaign of the unemployed has also involved the distribution of flyers to get their story out. They have been letterboxed. Posters have also been produced. Council meetings have been attended in large numbers.
Blaming the unemployed for not having a job and being poor; victimising them through Centerlink, is no way to solve what is a serious problem in Australia.
There is only one job for every 17 job-seekers and the time spent unemployed is getting longer. Seventy percent of people on Newstart find that they are out of work for more than a year.
Compounding this, is the growing number of people with serious health issues. Over one-quarter of Newstart recipients have a diagnosed disability. The number of sole parents on Newstart, becausethey are denied disability support is growing rapidly. So is the number of single parents denied the Sole Parent Pension. These are issues that need to be addressed.