UnitingCare Australia has welcomed the joint announcement today from the Federal Government and the Australian Greens that promises to deliver dental care to disadvantaged adults and to children from low income families.
UnitingCare Australia’s National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds said low income Australians will be better off under new legislation which passed the House of Representatives yesterday.
Australia spends more on subsidies to the booming mining industry than it would cost to increase the Newstart Allowance by $50 per week, a new analysis by The Australia Institute reveals.
UnitingCare Australia’s National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said the Coalition’s decision to cut the Income Support Bonus, should it form government after the Federal election in September, will deliver a significant blow to low income Australians including people on Newstart, Youth Allowance and Parenting payments.
All Australians should have the means and opportunity to live a decent life of financial health and wellbeing.
UnitingCare believes the Australian welfare system must support the transition out of poverty into stable employment.
This can be achieved through a more equitable tax and transfer system, in conjunction with innovative national employment approaches that address the changing workforce.
Poverty and inequality continue to grow in Australia. A staggering 2.55 million Australians were living below the poverty line in 2012.
Chronic poverty remains a high risk, with about a quarter of those who exit poverty returning to being poor within two years, and about 12 to 15 per cent of poor households remaining poor 11 years later.
Income inequality in Australia is higher than the OECD average. In the 25 years up to 2010, real wages increased by 50 per cent on average, but only by 14 per cent for those in the bottom 10 per cent, compared with 72 per cent for those in the top 10 per cent.
An increasing number of children and young people are caught up in the financial hardship affecting their families. Growing up in poverty is a key risk factor for living with long-term financial hardship as an adult, so actions that reduce the risk of poverty in families are crucial.
This includes improving the financial literacy of Australians from an early age, so that they know how to achieve a secure economic future for themselves.
Australia’s workforce participation is declining; the ageing population and advancement in technology are expected to contribute to this trend. Automation of low-skilled jobs may further contribute to the recent peak in youth unemployment.
New skills and capabilities, such as digital literacy, will be crucial in the post-mining boom era.
UnitingCare Australia released a report today showing Australians who are experiencing financial hardship are not able to make ends meet because welfare payments are too low.
The report found that the majority of people seeking emergency relief and financial counselling from UnitingCare agencies across Australia were recipients of Newstart Allowance, and were unable to afford food and energy bills.
Speaking after the release of the The Deep and Persistent Disadvantage in Australia Productivity Commission's study, National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said “a combination of inadequate financial support and access to services is forcing vulnerable people into deeper poverty, entrenching their disadvantage, and making it increasingly difficult for them to get ahead.”
Disadvantage is dynamic. Most people who become disadvantaged are able to move out of it relatively quickly, but a small group remain disadvantaged for extended periods of time.
Government, the community sector and business all have important roles to play in ensuring all Australians have the means and opportunity for a decent life, supported by a healthy economy, UnitingCare Australia National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds says.
“We are a prosperous nation. And yet we continue to have pockets of entrenched disadvantage, some of which are growing. Australia can do better than this – by addressing revenue as well as Government spending,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said, responding to the release today of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.
UnitingCare Australia’s National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said that this year’s Federal Budget falls short of its own ambition to provide equality of opportunity for all Australians.
"The burden of this budget falls overwhelmingly on families, pensioners and young people.
UnitingCare Australia welcomes the weekend release of the McClure Review’s Interim Report on welfare reform and is encouraged by the foundations being laid by the review.
“We all agree that a simple, efficient and adequate system is important and that we need to make sure people are being supported effectively. The critical thing is to ensure that these priorities remain forefront for any recommendations made,” said Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director of UnitingCare Australia.