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Townsville City Council endorses increase to Newstart

Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) congratulates Townsville Council for officially endorsing the ‘Raise the Rate’ campaign, a national campaign, which calls on the Federal Government and Opposition to raise the rate of Newstart.

Townsville is within one of the most marginal federal electorates in Australia and there are 7,087 local Newstart recipients.

The ‘Raise the Rate’ campaign is visiting Townsville to meet with local residents receiving the Newstart Allowance. The campaign will be hosting a community forum that will hear from local residents receiving Newstart who will share their stories about how tough it is to survive on the current rate of $40 per day. ACOSS CEO Dr. Cassandra Goldie said, “We commend Townsville City Council for standing up and being a voice for residents who are struggling to make ends meet. We call on federal political leaders, who will likely be visiting Townsville in the federal election, to listen to the local community and follow the Council’s example.”

“Australia’s income support system was designed to help people when they are going through tough times to support them into suitable paid work. But Newstart is not working – the rate has not been increased in real terms for 25 years while living costs for people on low incomes have gone through the roof,” she said.

“The current rate of $40 per day is too low to give people the support they need and forces them into a cycle of debt, social isolation and humiliation that undermines their efforts to find suitable work and risks them slipping through the cracks into a cycle of poverty.

“Raising the rate by about $10 per day will strengthen Newstart by easing financial stress so people looking for employment have the best chance to get into the workforce.”

Analysis released by ACOSS (Australian Council of Social Service) has revealed that raising the rate of Newstart by $75 a week will generate an additional $35.57 million in income for the Townsville economy in the first year.

The Raise the Rate campaign has seen business groups, charities, unions and local councils (26 across the country, representing over 1.8 million residents) unite to call on the government to raise the rate of Newstart, the payment for people looking for paid work, which has not been raised in real terms for over two decades.

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