AHURI research informs Australian Government Inquiry into Newstart

Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs releases report

13 May 2020

The Australian Government’s Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs has released its report from the ‘Inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart and related payments and alternative mechanisms to determine the level of income support payments in Australia’.

The report made 27 recommendations in total and proposed a number of important recommendations in relation to housing welfare programs, including:

  • a review of the adequacy of the Commonwealth Rent Assistance program, to ensure it significantly improves rental affordability and reflects fluctuations in rents and local rental market circumstances;
  • that the Australian Government work with state and territory governments to ensure immediate increases in funding for emergency relief housing and social housing.

AHURI was pleased to make a submission to the Inquiry, drawing on our extensive evidence-base with a focus on how well those on income support are able to access, afford and remain secure in housing, but also how well those on income support and housing assistance are able to access employment.

While the evidence to the Inquiry was received prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the final report acknowledges that the findings will be useful ‘in the development of appropriate policies and programs to support the anticipated increased number of jobseekers due to the COVID-19 crisis beyond the temporary measures put in place by the government’.

The reports final recommendation acknowledges the need for an increase in JobSeeker (formerly Newstart) and related support payments post COVID-19:

  • The committee recommends that once the Coronavirus Supplement is phased out, the Australian Government increase the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment rates to ensure that all eligible recipients do not live in poverty

The Senate committee’s report can be accessed via the Australian Parliament’s website, together with AHURI’s submission (number 125).