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Government must acknowledge payment inadequacy in income support review



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13 November 2013

Government must acknowledge payment inadequacy in income support review

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The Australian Greens said today that any review of the income support system must first acknowledge that payments are too low and recognise the role this plays in condemning people to poverty.

"I am deeply concerned that the person behind Welfare to Work is being called in by the Abbott Government to do this review," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson for families and community services said today.

"Welfare to Work has not been effective, and I have no doubt that it is contributing to the increasing poverty amongst single parents and their children. Recruiting the architect of this regime to conduct a review into income support is typical of the Government's increasingly hard-line approach to vulnerable Australians.

"The Government must not use the excuse of 'streamlining payments' to further restrict access to income support, or to toughen the rules around eligibility and participation in order to cut people out of the system.

"Making a payment harder to receive and limiting access to supports and services does nothing to address the growing barriers to employment many Australians face, such as age discrimination, a lack of education or training, the need for flexible hours for carers or parents, or a partial disability.

"There is widespread acknowledgement of the inadequacy of payments like Newstart, and the Government needs to acknowledge this as part of their review.

"Poverty in Australia is increasing, as are the demands being placed on our community sector. It is imperative that the Government acts in a responsible and compassionate manner to address these issues.

"While there is a strong case for simplifying our system of income support, any review must ensure that all Australians have access to a guaranteed adequate income, which is properly indexed to reflect the living for people on low or fixed incomes. This is crucial to ensure people are not forced further into poverty," Senator Siewert concluded.