Unemployed act as Budget strings tighten

A forum to discuss the growing need for employment in the Illawarra was held in Dapto today.  The Unemployment Forum, hosted by Bruno Conte at the Ribbonwood Centre, was an attempt by the Centre for Community Enterprise to identify the underlying issues of unemployment in the Illawarra, with the hope of launching an informed campaign to lobby politicians and gain support funding.



Throsby MP critical of Budget unemployment snub

The Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones, has criticised his own party after this month’s Federal Budget failed to increase the unemployment benefit.

Mr Jones has joined a string of social service organisations across the country that are urging major political parties to increase unemployment support payments in attempt to stop the rise in poverty.

“I believe that we do need to increase the level of unemployment benefit, and I was disappointed that we didn’t do it in this budget,” Mr Jones said.

The criticism follows the 2013 Federal Budget decision to cut payments to over 80,000 parents, which was derided by the social services sector.

“It’s a policy of ours that we increase the level of unemployment benefit,” Mr Jones said.

“The gap between the unemployment benefit and other pensions has grown too great, and we’ve got groups as diverse as the Australian Council of Social Security and the Business Council of Australia saying that the government should act on this, because something’s wrong,” he said.

The release of the Salvation Army National Economic and Social Impact Survey earlier this month shows that over 60% of people seeking relief from the Salvation Army cannot afford dental treatment, 35% go without prescribed medication and 37 per cent can not afford to send their children to school excursions.

Australian Council of Social Services CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie is disappointed the Federal Government chose not to include an increase in the Newstart payment, despite widespread community support.

“We know that the $35 a day Newstart payment is now grossly inadequate and has been allowed to fall further behind community living standards,” Dr. Goldie said.
“An increase in the lowest social security payments for single people including single parents is the one policy that would have the most immediate and widespread impact on the lives of people affected by poverty.”

Mr Jones says he committed to being being outspoken on the issue.

“I’ve raised it at Caucus meetings, and I was able to get some improvements around single mums and other parts of the unemployment benefit,” he said.

“I want to see us go further, and I’ll continue to push it.”

Dr Goldie said Australia can and should do better to support the unemployed.

“We call on our elected representatives to show leadership on this issue and legislate a much needed $50 increase in Allowance payments for single people as a matter of urgency,” she said.

Australia’s unemployment rate is forecast to jump to 5.75 per cent by the middle of next year and remain high into 2015 with annual job growth being below the historic average. More than one million Australians seek help from the Salvation Army every year.

Words: SHANNON KELLEHER
Video: AMELIA CADDY

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