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To: Social Services Minister, Christian Porter
Newstart Allowance: Forcing People With Disabilities Below The Poverty Line
Dear Christian Porter,
Please consider raising the Newstart Allowance (NSA) by $100 for people living with a disability. With a decrease in people eligible for the Disability Support pension and an increase in NSA recipients with a disability, forced to live a below the poverty line.
How is it possible for somebody with a disability who receives the NSA with additional costs associated with having a disability to live a life that enables them to seek employment and fulfill their other significant roles?
I urge you to increase the Newstart Allowance for people with a disability so they are no longer forced to live below the poverty line and re-evaluate the unreasonable expectations placed on this population of people.
Why is this important?
How can you bake a pie when you can only afford the flour?
Our Government has set unreasonable expectations for individuals living with a disability in Australia to find employment whilst on the Newstart Allowance.
"In 2013-14, 510,900 adults with a disability (or 15.8%) and a further 328,100 with a disability that included a core activity limitation (or 17.8%) were living below the poverty line (pp. 34)" (Australian Council of Social Service [ACOSS] , 2016).
A person living below the poverty line in Australia is suggested to have a net income of $426.30 per week (ACOSS, 2016). People living with a disability incur additional costs of living such as transportation, pharmaceuticals, medical procedures, adaptation to home or work environments etc. which contributes to the need of our Government to support these individuals and not place them into the unemployment bracket. Although unemployment benefits were originally intended to be interim payments for people temporarily out of work, the harsh reality for Newstart recipients is now very different, especially for people with a disability as many may never gain employment (Brotherhood of St Laurence, 2012).
Since the implementation of the Welfare to Work policies in 2006, there has been an increase of people who are considered to have a 'partial work capacity'. This is described as the capacity to work at least 15 hours per week or earn above the minimum wage over a two year period are deemed ineligible for the the Disability Support Pension (DSP) and placed onto the lower Newstart Allowance (NSA) (ACOSS, 2016).
According to the Department of Human Services (2017) a person with a disability on the Newstart allowance will receive the following payments weekly:
Newstart Allowance: $267.80
Rental Assistance: $66.10 (maximum)
Energy Supplement: $4.40
This demonstrates that the Newstart Allowance and additional supplements are still $88 below the poverty line for a single adult in Australia.
By raising the Newstart Allowance $100 for people with a disability, this will bring them above the poverty line and increase their opportunities to fulfill their roles within our community.
Australian Council of Social Service. (2016). Poverty in Australia. Retrieved May 8, 2017, from http://www.acoss.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Poverty-in-Australia-2016.pdf
Brotherhood of St Laurence. (2012). Towards a fair and decent social security system. Retrieved May 1, 2017, from http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0ahUKEwiYpdrkhd3TAhWCvbwKHZIwC7AQFggsMAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aph.gov.au%2FDocumentStore.ashx%3Fid%3D905e2705-aa60-4eca-8e0f-ded62357ba5d&usg=AFQjCNFpur32gMVjH4iT2XeZIv5bCZ5T0Q
Department of Human Services. (2016). Payment rates for energy supplement. Retrieved May 1, 2017, from https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/payment-rates-energy-supplement#newstart
Department of Human Services. (2017). Rent Assistance. Retrieved May 1, 2017, from https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/rent-assistance
Department of Human Services. (2017). Newstart Allowance. Retrieved May 1, 2017, from https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/newstart-allowance/how-much-you-can-get