Anti-Poverty Week welcomes key elements of the Strengthening the Safety Net legislation, especially increasing the age of eligibility for Parenting Payment Single to 14 (from 8), and the increases in Commonwealth Rent Assistance and JobSeeker and some related working-age payments. In particular, we have called for an increase in JobSeeker and related payments since we refreshed our strategy in early 2019. In 2023, our key actions to reduce poverty are summarised in our submission to the Senate Inquiry into Poverty here. As we said in evidence to that Inquiry: “The pandemic and associated lockdowns shone a light on what is important for us as a society. It was a time when millions of Australians experienced the pain of having our health, income, freedom, our connection to others, and maybe even our hope for a better future, diminished and constrained. Poverty does all of that. Living in poverty is like living in a permanent lockdown.”
However, we are extremely concerned that the legislation does not do enough to reduce poverty in Australia, especially child poverty. The payment increases of $40 a week and a 15% increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance are far too small to unlock poverty for the millions of individuals and families affected. In particular, we do not understand why the Federal Government has chosen to exclude Parenting Payment Single from the $40 a fortnight increase which will be provided to all other Working Age Payments. This means 453,000 children living in 218,000 single parent families will miss out[i]. This is nearly four times the number of families (57,000) who benefit from the increase in eligibility until the youngest child turns 14.
See our Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Committee re Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Safety Net) Bill 2023, 3 July 2023