ACOSS calls for action to help those in poverty

THE poorest Australians have been largely ignored in the Federal Election campaign, says the community services sector, which is calling for action within 100 days of the new government.

A suite of priorities to address poverty and disadvantage around the country were outlined by Australian Council of Social Services chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie on Monday.

Chief among the commitments demanded was a $50-a-week rise to the dole. Major tax reforms, a new "national development goal" to reduce poverty and a review of the Schoolkids Bonus were also in the wishlist.

The plan aims to address disadvantage across the nation, with the key move being to harness the wealth of the richest Australians to lift the poorest out of poverty.

Dr Goldie said the economic debate could not ignore the essential role of lifting Australians out of poverty, and ensuring the unemployed can live with basic dignity and have the means to return to work.

"One of the great things about the Disability Care Australia debate was that Australians were willing to get behind an increase in the revenue base to support people with a disability," she said.

Dr Goldie said the long-awaited Henry tax reforms should serve as a blueprint to help address poverty, as well as improve the economy.

She said the community sector was also disappointed in the lack of diversity in public policy debate, saying the sector was not at the table during COAG negotiations, despite calls for it to be included.

People with a Disability president Craig Wallace said the NDIS negotiations showed that despite a lack of political courage, most Australians were prepared to help pay for initiatives to help those most in need.

"As long as people can see where the money is going, and they know it is going to help those most in need, we know Australians will back it," he said.

St Vincent de Paul chief executive John Falzon said the most disadvantaged Australians were "missing in action" during the election campaign, and the community sector was waiting to see what would be put on the table.


First 100 Days for incoming government:

  • $50 a week rise to unemployment benefits
  • Set a "National Development Goal" for reducing poverty and implement a plan to do it
  • Start implementing Henry tax reforms as blueprint for future economy
  • Review Schoolkids Bonus to ensure money goes to those most in need
  • Commit long term to National Rental Affordability Scheme

SOURCE: ACOSS Federal Election Statement 2013


>>See latest election stories