‘Help them improve’: Salvo boss backs bid to lift Newstart

BUNDABERG'S Salvation Army Captain Chris Millard said there was "no fine line" on the difference between welfare and a wage, but agreed the Newstart payment should be increased.

His comments follow a Queensland Council of Social Services media release supporting Deputy Premier Jackie Trad after she took an opportunity to publicly announce her support for an increase to Newstart.

Latest figures showed there about 4000 people were on Newstart in the Hinkler electorate.

"It's important to realise that Newstart is the last thing that increases when the CPI increases come through," Mr Millard said.

He said it wasn't a matter of increasing the welfare payment for the sake of it, but "the problem with Newstart is that everything else is going up".

This was a point mirrored by the QCOSS release, where QCOSS CEO Mark Henley said it was "appalling" that federal politicians had not increased Newstart in 25 years despite an increase to basic living costs.

"In this time the basic costs of living have increased significantly and many people are struggling to survive, often having to decide between putting food on the table and paying rent," Mr Henley said.

Captain Millard said while there was undoubtedly those who did the wrong thing, the majority of people on Newstart know it's not a sustainable long-term payment solution and want to get off it.

He pointed to a few initiatives helping people get off the payment, such as the work for the dole program helping people realise it wasn't a free ticket.

But he said one of the best ways to help the unemployed is for the government to invest in ways out.

"One of the greatest things they need is more money spent on systems to help them improve," Mr Millard said.

He said that the government needed to ask itself 'What are the basics people need?' and go from there, but conceded there were many complicating factors in determining what an acceptable payment was.

However, he pointed to many social factors that perhaps didn't make their presence known in hard data, like the number of single parents no longer able to stay home to raise a family as one wage was not enough for a family to survive on.

"For me, I believe the government needs to bridge that gap," Mr Millard said.

QCOSS CEO Mark Henley said the fact that Newstart hadn't seen a raise in 25 years was "appalling".

"Everyone in Queensland should be able to afford a decent standard of living but most people receiving Newstart are living below the poverty line and don't have enough money to afford the basics like housing, food, electricity and access to affordable health services," Mr Henley said.

The QCOSS Living Affordability in Queensland report found that income support was not working as it did not provide enough support to help people need to get back on their feet.



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