Thursday, 29 March 2012 00:00

Increased Unemployment Benefits Needed

Unitingcare Australia supports ACOSS's call today for an increase of $50 a week in unemployment benefits.

National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said inadequate support is forcing vulnerable people into deeper poverty entrenching their disadvantage and making it more difficult for them to get a job.

“UnitingCare Australia has joined this campaign because we see in our services every day the impact of unemployment on people’s lives right now, and their prospects for the future.

Research we conducted in January and February this year found growing numbers of people on unemployment payments seeking financial assistance and help to deal with debt.

“The current rate of unemployment payments barely covers housing and energy bills, let alone rising costs of food and education, or the costs of seeking work.

“We heard about families left with $80 a week for food after the other bills were paid, about people in regional areas who couldn’t keep up with car insurance, registration or fuel costs, so could no longer get out to job interviews or take advantage of casual work opportunities. We heard about families cutting out spending on prescription medicines and home insurance.

“This year’s Federal Budget must ensure that every Australian has enough income to live a decent life. Raising unemployment benefits by $50 a week is a modest but essential step in ensuring every Australian has, in Treasurer Wayne Swan’s words, a decent shot at a decent life.

The UnitingCare network provides social services to over 2 million people each year in remote, rural and metropolitan Australia. The network employs 35,000 staff and engages 24,000 volunteers.

Contact: Judith Tokley 0408 824 306 / 02 6249 6717

UnitingCare Australia is the national agency for UnitingCare, a network of service providers in over 1300 communities across Australia dedicated to providing assistance to individuals, families and communities. The UnitingCare network is one of the largest providers of community services in Australia.