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.

  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

  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

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