Raising the rate for good essential for our health and the economy
The level of the Jobseeker payment is good for the physical and economic health of the nation which is why we must retain an adequate unemployment payment beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, the Consumers Health Forum says.
“We strongly support the National Day of Action today to demonstrate why we cannot turn back to the old Newstart rate of $40 a day. We need a permanent and adequate increase to JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other income support payments,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.
“The significant increase in the unemployment payment at the onset of the coronavirus was recognition of just how inadequate the old Newstart rate was.
“Two years ago CHF pointed to evidence of the inadequacy of Newstart and the impact such low payments have on health outcomes in the Government’s own publication, Australia’s health 2018.
“That report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, states that action on the social determinants of health such as socio-economic status, ‘is an appropriate way to tackle unfair and avoidable health inequalities’.
“The report cites an estimate that if action were taken on social determinants --- and the health gaps between the most and least disadvantaged closed - half a million Australians could be spared chronic illness, $2.3 billion in annual hospital costs could be saved, and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme prescription numbers cut by 5.3 million (Brown et al.2012).
“The argument for retaining a realistic rise in these payments is even stronger today when we face the prospect of deep economic recession and the mounting health challenges that will bring to low-income Australians.
“We support the ACOSS #RaisetheRateforGood campaign and call on all sides of politics to act on the compelling evidence that people in poverty are much more likely to suffer poor health, higher risk of chronic disease and mental illness,”
“There is currently only one job vacancy available for every 13 people on JobSeeker or Youth Allowance.
“For many people who used to be on the old, low rate of Newstart, the increase to JobSeeker has meant they’ve finally been able to access the essentials, like prescription glasses, paying electricity bills so they can turn their heating on and buy warm jumpers for their children to get through winter.
“We agree with ACOSS that as we rebuild in the future, we cannot turn our back on those who are at risk of being left behind. We need to #RaisetheRateforGood so that everyone has enough to cover the basics of life, like a roof over one’s head and food on the table.
#RaisetheRateforGood should be part of a comprehensive plan to address the huge psychological, health and economic challenges triggered by the pandemic. Such a plan should include measures such as social prescribing which has been shown to support communities and health care providers to help their most vulnerable residents,” Ms Wells said.