Raise Newstart to the Poverty Line

Below is a copy of our petition to the Federal Coalition Government asking for Newstart to be immediately increased to the poverty line. Click here to sign it today!

Today, Australia’s unemployment benefit – known as the Newstart Allowance – is around $523 per fortnight.

With the poverty line at $520 per week according to Melbourne Institute, this means that the Newstart Allowance is $390 per fortnight below the poverty line.

Newstart rate to 2014
As a result, Australia’s unemployment benefit is one of the lowest unemployment benefits in the developed world.

This is a national disgrace.

It has been 21 years since the Newstart Allowance was increased in real terms. The wait has to end now.

Currently there are 700,000 unemployed Australians suffering as a result of the low rate of Newstart.

According to a report from the Australian Council of Social Services, 40 per cent of those on Newstart can’t afford to pay bills on time and 36 per cent spend more money than they receive every week. 55% on Newstart live below the poverty line.

Nearly half can’t afford to go out once a fortnight, have friends over just once a month, can’t afford hobbies and, can’t afford to buy new clothes. Additionally, if this was not bad enough, 25% of those on Newstart have to manage a significant disability.

In some cases, as shown in a recent ABC investigation, the low rate of Newstart forces people into homelessness.

While the government suggests that this low rate of Newstart is necessary to push people into work, this is a lie.

According to both the Australian Bureau of Statistics and theDepartment of Employment, there are currently 1.83 million unemployed and under-employed people competing for only 155,000 job vacancies – resulting in a record high ratio of 12 job seekers per job vacancy.

Exactly how are the unemployed meant to find work in this situation?

As a result of the complete lack of jobs, 7 out of 10 people receiving Newstart have been unemployed for more than a year, up from 6 out of 10 three years ago.

The Australian Unemployment Union demands that the Federal Government:

(1) Increase the Newstart Allowance to the poverty line (50% of median income), shown by the Australian Council of Social Services to be $800 per week.

(2) Cease the current indexation arrangements that put the Newstart Allowance – as well as Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment – in line with the Consumer Price Index.

Beginning with the election of the Fraiser Government in 1975, successive Federal governments have chosen to increase Newstart in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rather than average wage growth. This has led to the rate of Newstart Allowance reducing $259.40 per fortnight.

As a result, the Australian Unemployment Union demand that the indexation of all working age payments are put into line with the Aged Pension and changed to average Male wage growth.

(3) Immediately revoke all proposed attacks on Newstart recipients which would strip a number of important rights from unemployed Australians.



  1. Stop treating people who are unemployed as some form of cancer on society, in my case I have 5 chronic illnesses, refused DSP twice due to the new changes. Yet my health is deteriorating and Aboriginal, they talk about closing the gap for Indigenous people, but the gap is widening with social welfare crackdowns and it is difficult to live modestly on New Start.
    I also potentially could be homeless in the near future due to my personal circumstances.

  2. The longer someone is unemployed, the less likely they are to find work. The psychological damage that living so far under the poverty line causes to these persons can make it significantly more difficult to find work.

  3. I have now been looking for work for nearly twelve months, in that time I have had two interviews and plently of letters telling myself what great experience I have but we have someone who is more aligned with are job specs. I am registerd with Newstart and have a job agency were I go to to complete your job plan. This is just dishearting. I have had up to five different case mangers and the last two vists I have seen no one. I have been around and I am older there is a real basis towards older workers in this country. THEY DONT WANT US. So if you are fifty and older go open a business you wont get past the blockers, who are the blockers? HR. They think they know everthing they dont, when an HR dept gets structed into a business thats the begining of the end for that business, I have experienced this on three occasions. Losing good experienced people who dont fit the crita. you know the drill you have to re-apply for your role. Until the culture in the Goverment changes and they see all voters as an asset and not a lilabilty currentlly we dont have to many people fiting in our corner, nothing else will change espically in HR.

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