Lifting income support
The Greens want a stronger social safety net and adequate income support. The Greens will lift key payments including Newstart, provide single parents with more support, and reverse Coalition cuts to income support. This will provide support to vulnerable people, and help combat poverty and inequality.
There has been no real, legislated increase to Newstart, the unemployment payment, in over two decades. Income inequality is growing in Australia and many people battle daily with poverty. That’s why the Greens are committing to real increases in key income support payments. The Greens will:
- Increase single rates of Newstart Allowance and independent Youth Allowance by $55 a week. This will provide increased support for more than half a million people across Australia.
- Move single parents from Newstart to Parenting Payment Single, and removing the pause in income thresholds. This will help more than 90,000 single parents across Australia.
- Reverse Coalition cuts to income support, including the income support waiting period for young people.
Strengthening our social safety net
A strong social security safety net is the foundation of a more inclusive and productive society. No-one in a country as rich in Australia should be living in poverty. The Greens have a comprehensive plan to move our social security system into the twenty-first century, creating a system that is flexible and responsive to the changing needs of our economy and society.
To address poverty and inequality in Australia, the Greens will:
- Develop a national anti-poverty plan. This will provide a coordinated, cross-government approach to tackling poverty.
- Guarantee access to essential social services. There are many in our community who don’t have access to key services we take for granted. The Greens will boost community service funding by $504m over four years, prioritizing areas of greatest need.
- Redirect Work for the Dole funding into community based initiatives that deliver real employment outcomes.
- Establish an Equality Commission, to provide advice to Government and Parliament on our income support system and progress on reducing inequality.
Helping Australians struggling with rental stress
Housing affordability in Australia has reached a crisis point, especially for young people, pensioners and single people in the rental market. Commonwealth Rent Assistance assists more than one million people but has not kept up with spiralling rent prices. Our proposal is a long overdue measure to reduce pressure on people struggling to meet their basic housing needs.
The current level of rent assistance means 40% of recipients still experience housing stress after receiving rent assistance. Some groups receiving rent assistance are particularly vulnerable to rental stress:
- 57.5 per cent of households including young people (24 and under) were in rental stress;
- 31.2 per cent of recipients on the DSP were in rental stress; and
- 32.8 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recipients were in rental stress.
The Greens proposal will tackle this problem at its core by increasing Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 30%, through an increase of 10 per cent on current levels in each of 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20. This would equate to an increase of between $13-25 a week.
The Greens will also review the structure of CRA payments in accordance with reports by peak bodies recommending that the level of payment should vary according to the average rental cost in each location. We will look at abandoning the Rent Assistance rules regarding ‘sharers’ and aim at linking payments to the level of rent paid, rather than the type of living arrangement people may be in.
Reversing income management
The Greens share the concerns of people and communities across the country who have fought against harsh income management policies, including the cashless welfare card. The old parties have both supported expanding income management, an unfair and ineffective policy. Both old parties voted in support of the cashless welfare card on multiple occasions, despite knowing it would be ineffective, and ignoring the opposition from community members.
The Greens will remove all compulsory income management, including the cashless welfare card. Where individuals have genuinely volunteered for income management, the infrastructure will remain in place to support individuals who’ve made a genuine choice to participate.
The policy has been fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, and will save $65m in the 2016-17 financial year. Cutting this unfair and ineffective policy means other programs that offer genuine support can be better funded.
More support for people with disability
Everyone has the right to independence, self-determination and choice. Our vision is for a society that embraces diversity, and provides appropriate support so that everyone can participate fully. That’s why the Greens are committing to:
• Fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The NDIS will provide important support for people with disability. That’s why we want a fully-funded rollout, so the NDIS can be the best it can be.
• Reverse Coalition cuts to the Disability Support Pension. The Coalition has cut income support for people with disability. We will reverse those cuts to give people with disability the support they need.
• Provide audio description on the ABC iView, to ensure ABC material is available to a wider audience.
We believe in a society that provides the right support, so that everyone can participate fully. The Greens are committed to a fully funded National Disability Insurance Scheme. We will also increase support for people with disability by reversing harsh Coalition cuts to the Disability Support Pension.