Study finds 61 per cent of welfare recipients often go without meals.
Study finds 61 per cent of welfare recipients often go without meals. Contributed

Below the line: Newstart recipients struggle to live

A RECENT study undertaken by The Salvation Army has found Australia's Newstart allowance has not risen with inflation for 24 years and is having a detrimental effect on disadvantaged Australians.

Bundaberg Corps Officer with The Salvation Army Captain Chris Millard said the Newstart model needed a complete overhaul.

"We're seeing a huge increase in the amount of people who require our services," CaptainMillard said.

"A lot of people (are) struggling to see ends meet, and the reality is, the rise in Newstart doesn't meet the rise in everything else.

"This is a fundamental problem that won't go away.

"Newstart is meant to carry you over until you can get a job - the problem is there's not a lot of entry-level jobs for the people who are receiving the Newstart allowance."

Captain Millard said people receiving the payment were making great sacrifices to make ends meet.

"They give up things like quality food or they won't turn the heater on - it's a constant battle to try to keep the wolves at bay," he said.

The survey of 1267 people found 95% of households were under the poverty line, with the average Newstart recipient living on just $17 a day after accommodation expenses.

The Salvation Army's MajorJeff Winterburn said the research confirms the Federal budget failed Australians doing it tough.

"It is simply inhumane that corporations and wealthy households are handed a tax cut, while the most disadvantaged and marginalised people in this country continue to be ignored," MajorWinterburn said.

"It is widely acknowledged it will take a minimum increase of $75 a week just to ensure people can live on the poverty line - let alone above it."

KEY FINDINGS

  • 74 per cent of all households experienced food insecurity
  • 61 per cent regularly went without meals
  • 59 per cent could not afford to pay their gas, electricity or phone bill on time
  • 55 per cent spent more money than they received and
  • 47 per cent sold or pawned items


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