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.

  4. It has been six month tomorrow for me. I have always worked, alas, it has been on the lower end of the scale. Right now I have that many bills it is t funny. Most of my accounts have been sent to debt collectors and everything just keeps going up in price. I am borderline about to have my electricity cut off, water cut off. I cannot pay my council rates and my mobile phone and internet are about to be cut off as well (which I need to look for work). All these companies are trying to force me onto payment plans that would wipe out my Newstart payment and that is before buying food, putting fuel in my car and paying my car insurance. The more job rejections I get, the further I slip into depression . I am just a useless piece of shit.

    1. My god the despair you mist be under. I am in the same situation. It defies belief dosnt it. Will it change to help us in time I dont think so? My boys & I are headed for certain homelessness. How sad

  5. I’ve been unemployed for two years. After the first year I’d used up the credit on my cards and now can no longer pay even the interest and have debt collectors chasing me. I’ve been driving an unregistered, uninsured car for the past year. I have no credit on my mobile phone – people can ring me but I can’t return calls Sometimes I don’t go out for days because I have to conserve my petrol in case I have to go to a job interview. The dole needs to be raised by at least another $200 per fortnight.

  6. Understanding that, the way they do it|} Makes sense: really early caution that you need to order another cartridge – and a lockout that you can’t discount, keeping you from having a really bad day in the future.

  7. I am unemployed homeless living in a tent and makeshift cover in the scrub, I am also taking a course of medication to hopefully clear me of Hepatitus C which has plagued my health for over 30 yrs, now I am being told that I must attend work for the dole activity approximately 30 kilometers from my makeshift accomodation. Not once has my JNP offered help for fuel for job interviews or even enquired about my living arrangements. I asked if they can pay for fuel to attend work for the dole and was told “no we dont do that”, and told we can give you a referal to a charity that can supply cheap food. Fair enough if I had refrigeration or even a cupboard to store food in safely. at present I buy food on a daily basis which is a very expensive way of living. Now I have received text messages saying that my newstart has been suspended aagh looks like its back to a life of crime for me to survive

    1. How do you mentally cope? I wouldnt be able to if I was in your predicament how depressing! I am trying desperately to avoid this (your circumstances) by actively lobbying the government….I have a year before my boys & I know a life so foreign and frightening from the one we have now 🙁

    2. You seem like an invisible person. You’d think someone would crack onto a story like this! Yours is much worse than average!

  8. I certainly can’t survive on a meagre $300 pw, although I’m lucky in that I have a housemate to share expenses. Otherwise I’d be in a shelter or homeless. I’m 55 and am employed casually, but since me employer can’t get a wage sub thru for me, my hours have been severely reduced. I’m wondering why would a person want to work under these conditions, but I do want to because the Newstart allowance is so low! If I was on my own, I’d be paying $260 pw rent with $40 pw left to buy food, pay bills and put fuel in the car. On Newstart alone, I couldn’t do it.

    I find this shameful and insulting to someone who’s always been employed, but who is now too old for employers to want to employ unless they can get a wage sub, which would mean I become what I call a Centrelink puppet for six months, then probably thrown back on the scrap heap after that.

    So much for working and paying my taxes all these years. Its disgusting!!

  9. Please check the figures in this article. There are several contradictions or basic additions are incorrect. I was looking for accurate information. Getting the figures wrong affects your credibility.

  10. I am 63 unable to renew my RN license while I was having major heart issues on sickness benefits and major back pain which had me kicked off of ‘sickness’ benefits because it was diagnosed as permanent illness, now I am on new start payments that only cover my rent of $640 a fortnight with $120 left to pay electric, heart medications, food, water, phone, rego. I worked for 40 years caring for people. Centre link tells me to go to charities to pay my overdue bills, each has given me another list of charities to contact, at ‘St’ vinnes I sat waiting watching women getting vouchers and food, I get a sympathy ear and not even a can of beans, every one else has no appointments available, I am seriously thinking of becoming a trans -gender

  11. In 2005 rent was 25 -30% of the dole In 2018 my rent is 72% of the dole. After rent & elect I hav e $48 a week to live on . That money is used for food petrol and clothes.I don’t drink or smoke or go anywhere and only get coffee when I do 15 hrs a week volunteering which you have to do to get the dole. I get an extra $10 a week on the dole for that vplunteering as well as attending meetings at work provider once a week and 20 obs a month jobaearch .Also have done 7 courses with 3 callbacks in 5 Years of attending coirse sfter course after course.Yesf is a struggle .
    I have so many certificates but no job yes please put the dole up.


  12. I am ashamed to call myself an Australian when I read so many sad stories of people struggling to survive on the pittance thats called newstart. I’ve seen it first hand in my own family. Older people who cant work through illness but don’t qualify for a disability pensipn. My heart goes out to all of you. All I can do is lobby the politicians to increase the amount which I am doing but I doubt that it will help.

    1. When you do work for dole, a lot of people there will whinge, but how many of them know about the unemployed workers union or acoss? There is growing poverty in this country and it’s about time as a collective group for a variety of reasons to make a bigger noise.

      We ought to contact our MP’s, petitions online, phone or whatever.

      Australia brings in a lot of immigrants but can’t care for the people already here! I hear you with your comment!

  13. What are people doing about the human rights abuse of the unemployed? There are many people like myself that help out family members on a regular basis. We don’t sit around watching TV or Internet all day!

    If politicians say they can’t live on welfare, why isn’t anything being done about it? The budget is a disgrace and Australia is just a shameful country — pensioners are looked upon as with halos on their heads and unemployed are not recognized for contributions they are not credited for in this country.

    When will facts triumph over feelings of miserable governments and workers in comfortable jobs? WHAT WILL THEY DO WHEN THE ROBOTS TAKE OVER!?

  14. Listen “Children”… the Fact is… we have been waiting for our Politicians to do the “Right Thing” by us… and they haven’t… ON PURPOSE. Because they CHOOSE NOT TO – either out of outright Ignorance and Misinformation, and/or by Design/Intentionally. Because WE are “meant” to suffer, “meant” to be “Victims” of “The System” – “SACRIFICES” to the “Gods” of Profit, Greed, and Lust for Power. That is why we are being “demonised” in the Press as “dole bludgers”, while being forced to endure more and more restrictions, to “jump through more and more hoops” in order to get a welfare payment that is impossible to live on, to move forward with, or to rebuild our Lives with. Benefits that haven’t been responsibly raised for about 25 years (?) according to my online Research. We are being purposely “blanked” – “marginalised” – “pushed” further and further to the “Edge of Nothing”, until we cannot help but “fall over the Edge” – unless we are very, very lucky and manage to find suitable employment before it is “Too Late”. “Herded like complacent cattle over a cliff” to be harvested, slaughtered and “consumed”. That is what happens when a Government tries to run itself like a Business, instead of a Government of ALL of the People, for the Benefit of ALL the People – not just the “Chosen Ones”. They don’t consider us as “People” anymore, but rather as “Resources and Assets to be managed”, cultivated, herded, harvested when the Times are “right” to do so. From Birth to Death, and after – they have set up the “System” to make money off of us, even after we die. We don’t live in a True Democracy, only the “appearance” of one, to lull the majority of us into a false sense of Security, until we “stumble”, or are “pushed” by “Unfortunate Circumstances” into one of their Social “Poverty Traps”. The Fact is… there are all kinds of Other Businesses, that have been set up to prey upon our weakened, and weakening “position” in Society. To “cultivate” and profit from our Pain, Suffering, Misery, Disadvantage and eventual Deaths. The longer it takes for us to suffer and die, the more Profit they can “milk us” for what we are “worth” to them. I believe the correct Business Term is “Negative Gearing”. Think about that. If you want them to treat us with the Respect, Support and Consideration that we DESERVE… then we are going to have to TEACH THEM RESPECT (and a healthy dose of Fear of losing their cushy “Public Service”Jobs, if not serving Time in Prison, as well for Exposed Corruptions). Yes, a Petition seems like the Best Way to let them know we are expecting them to “Do the Right Thing”… BUT… it is also Something, they can CHOOSE TO IGNORE, as they have been doing for a very long time – which has been working out quite for them hasn’t it? We are being “blanked” remember? There is a Saying… actually, I have made it up. PEOPLE WILL PUSH YOU AS FAR AS YOU LET THEM. Remember what Bugs Bunny said when “pushed into a corner”?? “Of course you realise… this means War!!” What the Politicians CAN’T AFFORD TO IGNORE, DARE NOT IGNORE… would be a Class Action Lawsuit against the Australian Government on behalf of ALL NewStart Recipients (to start with) who the Politicians have been repeatedly neglecting, abusing, and systematically victimising, through willfully ignoring their Duty of Care towards the Most Vulnerable Members of this Society for Decades now. I guarantee you… a Class Action Lawsuit that we could ALL sign up for, that demands a minimum of $1,000,000AU per Victim that is well-publicised… WILL become Front Page News on EVERY Public Newspaper, Newsmedia and WILL become EVERY Politician’s “Worst Nightmare Come True”, and WILL FORCE them to RE-EVALUATE their “Position” on raising the NewStart Benefits to an acceptable and realistic amount REAL FAST. Elections are coming up. Time for some “Heads to Roll” don’t you think?? I say, every Politician that could have “DONE the Right Thing” and CHOSE not to… needs to spend some Time on the Unemployment Line. Don’t you think? Obviously, they have their “fingers” in all kinds of “Money Pies”. They most likely will NOT suffer financially, emotionally, mentally, physically as much as we have been made to do. HOWEVER… we can sure as Hell, hit them where it will hurt them them most… take away their Jobs, drain their bank accounts fighting legal claims for years maybe, ruin their carefully cultivated Public Reputations as “Good, Responsible Public Citizens” and “Public Servants “. EXPOSE THEM FOR THE SOCIAL AND FINANCIAL PREDATORS THAT THEY ARE. I’m sure that between ALL of us, COLLECTIVELY… we have an overwhelming abundance of Incriminating Evidence, Documentation, and Witnesses to substantiate Our Claim in ANY High Court. Hells Bells… my late husband John went through a period of extended unemployment for 8 months after he was unfairly dismissed from his job… when he was going to Work Solutions(?), Work Directions(?)… I remember learning that it was the one that Kevin Rudd’s wife owned. He tried for months searching for a job. Didn’t even get one call back. After 8 months of going this Charade… I suddenly realised “Something Wasn’t Right”. John and I talked about it… I told him, he should at least be getting a phone call!! Told him to check his resume he had in their files, that he was sending out twice a week for 8 months remember. Next time he went in, checked his resume… turns out, it wasn’t the New Resume he had uploaded onto their System, but instead, was an Old Resume of his, from 4 years before, from the last time he had been unemployed for awhile… that had incorrect contact details, because we had moved, etc. So even if any Employer had wanted to hire him, interview him, they couldn’t possibly contact him to offer him a Job. When he confronted the Staff there, they said “Oh, clerical error”. So, he replaced the Old Resume with his New Resume, and sent out copies to prospective Employers , responding to Ads, etc. The next time before he left Home, to return to Job Service Provider, my Intuition was still going “ding,ding, ding”… I told him to check his Resume AGAIN… just in case. Sure enough… when he got there and checked his Resume… someone in the Office had removed his New Resume and replaced it with his Old Resume!!! ON PURPOSE. When he discovered this, again he confronted the Staff… this time, one of the Guys that worked there, took John aside and said “Look Mate, we don’t want you to get a job right now. Because if we place someone who has been unemployed on a short-term basis, we get paid a $500 Bonus from the Govt. But… if we place someone who has been unemployed for over a year… we get paid a $5,000 bonus”!!! This Job Service Provider was owned by Kevin Rudd’s wife remember. So… I had been made redundant during that 8 months that John was unemployed. But my Permanent Residency application hadn’t been approved yet, and I wasn’t able to find another job, because no one was willing to hire me without my Permanent Residency. So, Centrelink refused to acknowledge me as a Person. As far as they were concerned.. I did not exist… and we were living on John’s SINGLE Person’s New Start Benefits for 8 MONTHS!!! Every time he got paid, I would pay a week’s worth of rent, and we would fall behind by 1 week… I would buy 1 week’s worth of food, and somehow stretch it to last us for two weeks. We had to borrow money from our Families occasionally, to get caught up on rent before we were evicted during that Terrible 8 month Period. Mostly my Family, who didn’t have much money to spare, but helped us when they could afford to. So, our Pain, Suffering, Misery and Disadvantage, and being regularly put at Risk to become Homeless… was being actively “cultivated”, along with every other “Sucker” that was seeking employment through the Job Service Provider that Kevin Rudd’s wife owned – who was already getting paid by the Government to “help jobseekers” find employment… so that Kevin Rudd’s wife and Kevin Rudd (by association) could also “harvest” those $5,000 employment bonuses from the same Government that Kevin Rudd worked for from the jobseekers they successfully managed to sabotage their jobseeking efforts for a year or more. When we complained what we discovered to be the Hidden Truth… to Centrelink about this blatant abuse of power, corruption, neglect of duty of care, victimisation, etc…. nothing happened. No criminal investigation, no one fined, no compensation offered to us. NOTHING. John shifted to another Job Service Provider, but I found him a job within 2 weeks after that… which he had for 3 years before “New Management” bought that 65 year old company, and “managed to run it into the ground within a year’s time” and made him redundant. But that’s “Another Story, for Another Time”. “Food For Thought, Boys and Girls”… what the Politicians say means NOTHING… it is what they DON’T SAY, WHAT THEY DO, AND DON’T DO that means EVERYTHING. Their Words are just Words. We have been socially conditioned to accept what our Politicians tell us as TRUTH. To go by their Appearances of “Rightness”, “Decency”, “Respectability”. As a General Rule… you can’t rely on what they say or promise, or how they look… you can only go by WHAT THEY DO, AND DO NOT. They have judged us as being inconsequential. They have decided that our Lives, Livelihoods and Happiness don’t matter. As far as they are concerned… neither does our health and welfare, as well as the health and welfare of our Loved Ones who depend us matter either. Are you going to continue to wait for them to “DO the Right Things” until you have been made Homeless, or are so weakened by malnutrition and accompanying illnesses or die from their Neglect?? OR ARE ALL OF YOU READY TO FIGHT NOW, FOR WHAT IS RIGHT??? Time to talk to a Class Action Lawyer I think!!!

    1. What this very smart lady is saying is spot on! I wonder if there is a lawyer good enough to take up a case like this? Maybe University under graduates could make it a project? Its a human rights violation! Surely there is someone out there with the heart and influence to make make this type of lawsuit happen? Or at least make some noise to give these thieving politicians a scare. We certainly have the numbers (and factual stories) to back it. The numbers of Elite politicians are a minority compared to the numbers of voters. We must make OUR government accountable for these crimes against humanity (it’s basically a form of genocide) doled out by rich politicians and their friends. After all, don’t we employ them?

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