31 July, 2019

Increasing Newstart is crucial: NACCHO Chair

NACCHO calls for the Government to increase Newstart payments, welcoming the recent support for the same from Labor, the Greens, most Nationals and the majority of Crossbenchers.

“A very high number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia struggle to make ends meet and urgently require the additional assistance,” says Acting NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills.

“Many of our people face a daily decision of whether to pay their bills or feed their family, as they are unable to afford both.”

According to a 2018 report produced by Deloitte and commissioned by ACOSS, after paying their household expenses and bills many Newstart recipients survive on as little as $17 a day.

“Missing meals, sleeping rough, struggling through winter without electricity and suffering financial stress all has a deep impact on physical and mental health,” says Ms Mills.

It is people living in rural and remote communities that are most affected by high living expenses and low employment opportunities.

The report by Deloitte found that a $75 per week increase to Newstart would assist families and boost wellbeing in regional communities doing it the toughest — including by delivering 12,000 new jobs.

“It is unacceptable that while over the last 25 years there has been a drastic increase in living costs there has been no increase to Newstart,” says Ms Mills.

“Increasing Newstart by at least $75 per week would assist in breaking the cycle of poverty, reduce income disparity and provide better opportunities for all Australians doing it tough.

“Government should not need to wait for a Parliamentary Inquiry to confirm the urgency of an increase.”

NACCHO is the national peak body representing 145 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations across the country on Aboriginal health and wellbeing issues. NACCHO represents over 6,000 ACCHO staff – of which 3,500 are Indigenous – and is the largest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

Many NACCHO members have almost 50 years of experience in the delivery of comprehensive primary health care. Services are delivered through fixed, outreach and mobile clinics operating in urban, rural and remote settings across Australia.

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