Call on parties to commit to Newstart benchmark before September election

14 May 2013

Like many, the Brotherhood of St Laurence had hoped this Budget would begin to address the inadequacy of the Newstart payment rate.


Current levels are insufficient to enable unemployed people relying on these payments to live securely, let alone enable them to properly conduct their job search.

In the lead up to the September 14 election, we call on all parties to outline an adequate benchmark for Newstart and to publicly commit to a schedule for achieving it.

"The present allowance fails to keep job-seekers out of poverty," said Brotherhood Executive Director Tony Nicholson. "We are concerned about the widening gap between Newstart and pensions, which do better at providing a minimum acceptable standard of living."

"Unemployed people include those with low levels of education and limited job experience, single parents, people with disabilities, indigenous people and those who grew up in jobless households. Our research shows these are the very people who have benefitted the least from Australia's enviable economic growth over the past decade.

"We welcome the $300 million allocated in this Budget for measures to help job-seekers in transition to work, but we now call on both parties to pledge a much greater investment to build the capacities of the long-term unemployed.

"This is not a 'cost'; it is an investment in social infrastructure that is as vital as building roads and ports," Mr Nicholson said.

In that spirit, Mr Nicholson congratulated the Gillard Government on the achievement of establishing Disability Care Australia ( the National Disability Insurance Scheme). "The $14.3 billion over seven years funded by an increase in the Medicare levy ensures an enduring funding stream, and will assist some of the most disadvantaged Australians."

The Brotherhood of St Laurence also acknowledges the significant $9.8 billion investment put on the table for the nation's schools and urges state and territory governments to follow the lead of NSW and sign up to the new arrangements. The extension of the Youth Connections program for grassroots organisations to reengage young people in education or training was also most welcome, Mr Nicholson said.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse.
Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

The Brotherhood recognises the harm that family violence causes and that freedom from violence is a basic human right.
We will support our staff, volunteers, clients and the community if they experience violence.

Find out more about the work of the Brotherhood
Australian Aboriginal flag, a yellow circle on two horizontal black and red stripes

The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.

Torres Strait Islander flag, an icon of a traditional headdress on blue, black and green stripes