Incoming St Vincent de Paul Society National President has called on the Albanese Government to immediately increase social security payments and address the crisis in affordable housing.
Mr Mark Gaetani, who will take up the role of National President on Sunday, told members of the Senate Inquiry into the Extent and Nature of Poverty in Australia that the Society was witnessing unprecedented demand for support as more Australians struggle to survive the cost-of-living crisis.
‘We are seeing a huge spike in demand for support across the country—more than 20 per cent in NSW, for example—from Australians slipping further into disadvantage,’ Mr Gaetani said.
‘The Society believes that a fair Australia is one in which everyone can live with dignity. ‘Income support payments were designed to provide a safety net to allow Australians to live with dignity and to contribute to their families and the community.
‘Over the past 20 years successive governments have failed to ensure income support payments keep up with the cost of living.
‘Today, JobSeeker and other payments are brutally low and trap recipients in cycles of ever-increasing poverty and despair,’ Mr Gaetani said.
Mr Gaetani called on the Albanese Government to immediately increase JobSeeker and other income support payments as an emergency measure to lift recipients out of poverty.
‘No one deserves to live in poverty,’ Mr Gaetani said.
‘Yet in Australia today more than three million people are living below the poverty line, including one in six children, which has catastrophic impacts on their health, education and life paths.
‘The Government must take immediate action to help vulnerable Australians survive the cost-of-living crisis by increasing JobSeeker and related payments to allow vulnerable Australians to live with dignity and to participate in their communities,’ Mr Gaetani said.
‘We call on the Government to commit to halve child poverty by 2030 and to back this up with clear, measurable targets and actions to achieve this goal,’ Mr Gaetani said.
The crisis in affordable housing is exacerbating the cost-of-living crisis and driving more Australians into poverty.
‘Our members are on the frontline of the housing crisis and are witnessing a growing number of people being forced to live in tents and cars, and people in full-time work—or working multiple jobs— unable to afford a roof over their heads,’ Mr Gaetani said.
‘The Society is calling on the Albanese Government to urgently review Commonwealth Rent Assistance with a view to lift it by 50 per cent and to increase private market incentives, such as an alternative to the National Rental Affordability Scheme,’ Mr Gaetani said.