Brotherhood of St. Laurence welcomes new expert panel to advise on tackling disadvantage and boosting economic inclusion

30 November 2022

The Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) welcomes the Government’s commitment, as part of an agreement with Senator David Pocock, to establish an independent, legislated Economic Inclusion Advisory Panel.

Led by the Treasurer and Social Services Minister, the panel will bring together experts, advocacy groups and peak bodies to provide critical advice on economic inclusion measures and income support payments in the lead-up to the Federal Budget each year.

In conjunction with the Government’s initiative to ‘measure what matters’ through the Budget’s new Wellbeing Statement, there are strong signs that May 2023 will deliver substantive policy and payment improvements for struggling households.

“This is a very welcome and indeed an historic step in recognising the structural issues in our social security system that entrench poverty and disadvantage. We congratulate the Albanese Government and Senator Pocock on this initiative that we believe can make a material difference in the lives of those most affected by the current cost of living pressures and employment barriers. In drawing together a range of experts, it’s important the panel includes people with lived experience of poverty and disadvantage,” said BSL’s Executive Director, Travers McLeod.

“We are hopeful this panel will lead to a substantial real increase to the base rates of JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, and other relevant government payments. We hear from many families who have to skip meals so their children don’t have to, put off going to the doctor, and go without heating.

“With rising cost of living pressures, soaring power bills, and with rental affordability worsening, many across Australia are doing it tough but it’s those on the lowest incomes that are hit hardest.

“We expect this panel to shine a light on these pressing issues and for its advice to facilitate faster action, including in next year’s budget. Addressing the adequacy of payments is a good first step, but must be followed by tackling the structure and conditionality of support payments. We must also improve the capacity of our service systems to grow confidence and capability across Australia to ensure we have a fair and adequate social safety net that is fit for purpose for the 21st century,” said Mr McLeod.

The Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) is a social justice organisation working to prevent and alleviate poverty across Australia.

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