Consumer group urges higher dole to cut health risks

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The health of unemployed Australians is being compromised by the paucity of the Newstart payment, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) believes.

Lifting the payment by $75 a week would help reduce the risk of chronic disease and mental illness among the poorest citizens, according to the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS).

CHF, which is backing ACOSS’s ‘Raise the rate’ campaign, says the Government’s own reports supported the view that raising Newstart by $75 a week would “yield widespread health benefits”. 

Currently, the Newstart allowance, including the energy supplement, is $277.40 a week. The allowance increases to $345 for a single person who does not own a home when rent assistance is included.

A single age pensioner who rents can expect a maximum of $521.20 a week, or $176.20 a week more than an unemployed person aged less than 65.

Older Australians who have not reached the Age Pension age and who cannot find work are forced onto the Newstart payment.

Among the personal hardship stories shared by ACOSS is one of a former nurse in her 60s who is now unemployed.

“You can’t live on Newstart,” says Ellen, 61, who is caring for two children. “I eat one meal a day so the kids can eat. My sweet girl says I should eat more. I was a nurse for 27 years. All my savings have gone. I’m in so much debt. I try my best but feel so ashamed.”

CHF chief executive Leanne Wells is calling on all sides of politics to act on the evidence that people in poverty are much more likely to suffer poor health and have a higher risk of chronic disease and mental illness.

“The latest official report on the nation’s health, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Australia’s Health 2018, states that action on the social determinants of health such as socio-economic status, ‘is an appropriate way to tackle unfair and avoidable health inequalities’,” Ms Wells said.

“The report cites one study’s estimate that if action were taken on social determinants – and the health gaps between the most and least disadvantaged closed – half a million Australians could be spared chronic illness, $2.3 billion in annual hospital costs could be saved, and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme prescription numbers cut by 5.3 million.

“As the World Health Organisation has declared, people with lower incomes typically have less money to spend on taking care of themselves, whether paying for visits to the doctor, medicine, or healthy food.

“Stress associated with a lower income, especially during childhood, increases risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

“Despite Australia’s record-breaking 26 years of uninterrupted economic growth, about 13 per cent of Australians were estimated to be in relative income poverty in 2013-14, a figure that has changed little over the past 10 years,” Ms Wells said.

“It’s time to Raise the Rate of Newstart by $75.”

Would you be able to live on $345 a week if you didn’t own a home? Do you think an extra $75 a week for Newstart recipients is enough? Have you ever had to forego healthcare because you could not afford it?

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Written by Olga Galacho

83 Comments

Total Comments: 83
  1. 0
    0

    Nice “reward” for someone who has worked all their productive life.. NOT!..

    Current Gov. policy: Keep them poor and unable to “rise up”. “Maybe if a few fall through the cracks it will not only save us money but discourage others from complaining.”
    (Sarcasm intended!).

    If pollies were paid a similar wage, then we’d see some action.
    I reckon a politician’s pay should be an average of: The pension, the wages of the average the Police, Fireies, Ambulance workers, Teachers and Nursing staff.

    • 0
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      On the Ball….Poverty exists…because we cannot satisfy the rich.

    • 0
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      Jackie, poverty exists because we have had socialist governments in power during the past 30 years or more. Yes the elite (politicians) who pretend to be democratic are the exact opposite.

    • 0
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      Since Menzies, that Great Socialist, niemie?

      Are you 100% sure about that and can you certify that for us with facts and details?

      While I often agree with your basic premise – your attacks on the ‘left’ alone show that you are not in full command of the realities….

      Please explain?

    • 0
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      niemakawa you could have fooled me. I thought Governments supporting privatisation of everything and austerity budget after austerity budget were called Capitalist neoliberals.

      The last Social Democrat was Whitlam and we sure got rid of him so as to how a socialist country might look now with all our resources earning us money instead of foreign corporations we will never ever know. Universal free health and education is just a socialist dream here now. You have to go to those Nordic countries to see how that works out. We are private and our kids start life with tens of thousands in debt from courses that often don’t get them work. Yah wonderful capitalism working well for the Universities at least.

      It’s the Capitalists keeping wages down by bringing in huge numbers of workers. Capitalists paying the same % of taxes as they did 40 years ago while PAYG workers tax bills have risen 50% in the same time.

      The people have been had alright but not by anything that smacks of socialism. Neither of our parties do anything much for society as it’s all about the economy now.

  2. 0
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    According to government and big business logic, making the poor poorer makes them work harder, but the only way to get more productivity out of the high paid is to pay them a lot more!
    Solution to all economic and social woes (including health problems) – adopted in a small country in Europe (can’t recall which) and it now has the healthiest economy in the world – Cap the income of the highest income earner in any organization (government or business) at 25 times the income of the lowest income earner in that organization. Introduce flat taxation at 33% of all income over and above the minimum wage, no tax up to basic wage and no indirect taxes. No capital gains tax discounts, negative gearing or other nonsense tax avoidance rorts. Ban family trusts or tax all beneficiaries at 33%. Company tax same as individual tax. All income earned or brought into the country is taxed – if you operate here, you pay tax here.
    Watch the nation boom when tax revenues are adequate to provide proper government services and the only way for anyone to earn a high income is to take their whole team up with them. Politicians and bureaucrats, right up to the PM, have to ensure pensioner and unemployed are well provided for if they want to increase their own income. No more multi-million salaries for CEOs unless the clerks, cleaners, and even the tea lady share the prosperity.

    • 0
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      So the European country you have in mind does all these things? It sounds like one of the Scandinavian countries. If so, they have other problems: Islamic immigration and loony feminism (Sweden).

    • 0
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      “Islamic immigration and loony feminism “….. are an indication of everything about a nation and its relationship to its people?

      If I go fishing and take in a few useless fish, along with a few nice ones that I take home .. does that mean I am a failed state?

      I suppose the difference is that with an Islamic immigration or a feminist state… you cant just throw them back in the water and forget about them ……… but are forced to live with the decisions (hooks) that brought them to your homeland….

    • 0
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      Give me Islamic immigration and loony feminism any day as long as it comes with universal funded health and education that doesn’t leave anyone in debt gaining an education or seeking medical help.

      Besides a few loony Shield Maiden types here might help keep those over enthusiastic sexual predators at bay.

    • 0
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      Good person, clearly seeing what’s going on… not many around… the worst are those who have inhaled too much neoliberal propaganda.
      Fully agree, and could not have said it better. )

    • 0
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      OGR I can see a big bust happening myself as their is no incentive to work or invest.

    • 0
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      Not Scandinavian, Knows-a-lot. And no immigration problems or looney feminism as far as I could tell. They have very tight restrictions on immigration. Don’t need looney feminism because they have a healthy society and families are looked after – and reproduction encouraged. Wish I could find the article I read, or another that identifies the nation, because what they achieved was really amazing and brilliant. Not that we are likely to ever see it happen here! Way too much greed among the haves, and they are way too contemptuous of the have-nots. They seem to have a warped idea that people are actually WORTH what they are paid. (Well, actually, they think the rich are worth much more than they are paid and the poor are always worth much less than they receive!)

    • 0
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      No incentive to work or invest, OG? Now why would that be? Probably because the productive WORKERS are treated like crap and the useless BLUDGERS are paid fifty times what they are worth. Investors are either very rich or unjustly tormented. Certainly there is no incentive for battlers to invest.

      The problem is inequality. If it’s not address, yes, there will be a big bust. But my grandson – at the tender age of 14 – is pointing me to books that prove that the rich engineer depressions deliberately for their own gain, and they are in the process of engineering one right now. It will happen. The rich want it and will make sure it happens – on their terms, of course.

  3. 0
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    Well, its a nice change to see people recognize that all unemployed people are not dole bludgers.

  4. 0
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    Newstart is a sick joke. Even the Rightard Lieberals agree with that. So when are those nincompoops in government going to fix it? They put their own salaries up in a heartbeat.

    • 0
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      Of course, members of government are a privileged class of people and the “independent body” (nudge and wink) that decides how much salary increase politicians get, just recently awarded them $76.92 per week pay raise.
      But, it is so difficult for the same members of all political sides to support increase of Newstart by $75 per week let alone increase of the age pension.
      Perhaps, the Welfare pay system should be governed by an “independent body” ( nudge and wink)?
      So, until some decent weekly increase in Welfare payments occurs, those on Newstart can enjoy a full meal every 3 days instead of daily and the age pensioners every second day.

    • 0
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      An independent body in the pockets of the unemployed and pensioners would work wonders………….. just saying…

    • 0
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      HS, don’t you understand. The only way to make poor people work hard is to make them poorer. And the only way to make rich people work harder is to pay them much, much, much more (and tax them much, much, much less!). See, it’s all about INCENTIVES. Poverty and starvation is the best incentive for battlers. But if you are already rich, you are never going to suffer poverty or starvation, so the only possible incentive is to make you richer. Now surely that makes sense to everybody?

    • 0
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      I can see it becoming a election issue, so nobody will commit to raising it unless it gets them votes.

    • 0
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      Yes OGR but the battlers in the US sure stirred things up when they finally had enough and stopped spending stone cold dead.

      Nothing moves the rich faster than empty tills and zero balance sheets as we saw back then.

    • 0
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      Sadly, Australians are far more apathetic than Americans. America is a nation of go-getters and problem-solvers. Things aren’t right. Link arms and fix it! Aussies tend to just whinge (most of them anyway – and those who aren’t hurt by the wrongs gloat and scorn those who are hurting, as we see here constantly!)

  5. 0
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    PS: The health benefits will put less strain on the health budget, so the cost may well balance out.

    • 0
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      Yes Knows a lot. I just had to visit the doctor and buy ear drops for surfer ear outbreak. Cost me out of pocket $58.34. If I was on welfare that would reduce to $5.90 or whatever pensioners pay for scripts.The medical clinic bulk bills pensioners.

      It’s not just welfare recipients doing it tough.

      I feel sorry for those trying to live on falling rental payments because they bought an investment house for their old age and are stuck with income less than an Aged pensioner.

      Together with Hockey’s budget and the falling rent I’ve lost about $14000 a year. I’m just one of many and it can’t be helping the local shops at all. Shorten will decimate self funded retirees who are already either spending down savings or the opposite because there is no stability any more.

      Newstart is a joke and so are wages and self funded incomes.

      Rudd, Gillard, Abbott and Turnbull haven’t handled this global financial crisis well at all.

  6. 0
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    Not acceptable for any age group particularly for people in age brackets where they cannot access the aged pension due to restrictions on age . Unfair Even with rent it would be hard as there are utility bills and transport to pay for taking into considerations concessions, Yes the allowance must increase by 100 not 70

    • 0
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      Aged Pension back to 65 – politicians don’t get theirs until 65, and it’s means tested.

    • 0
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      I agree Trebor, why do politicians get a pension no matter how rich they are, we could then afford more public housing for the homeless and low incomers, that will make it easier on the health system.

  7. 0
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    The politicians only care about all all their wealthy mates Individuals and big business) and don’t give a stuff about the ordinary folk in this country. They only want to make the rich richer and the poor poorer and also be damned to the middle income earners too as they can get poorer as well. POX to them.

  8. 0
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    Yesterday is was bash the rich over charity donations, today it’s bash the rich over welfare payments. Anyone willing to take a stab at what they should be bashed for tomorrow?

    • 0
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      Having a bigger car than the poorer person, you know the one who has never worked a day in their life, but holds their hand out for their entitlement each fortnight. This is not aimed at people who are unemployed through no fault of their own, just the professional welfare recipients.

    • 0
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      Why not bash all the ones who had to get a mortgage and finally ended up with their own place, join Mick and include your place in the asset test and we are only half way there. The ones who never put in any complain the loudest. As they used to say in grandfather’s time: – The empty drum makes the loudest noise.
      Still true!

    • 0
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      The rich get bashed over tax deduction charity donations?

      Well – buggar me…. when dealing with tax avoidance you can guarantee that no cent is left unturned…..

      So if someone with a motza makes a charitable donation, to evade paying tax on their declared income at a higher rate by lowering their ‘income’ as stated to a lower level … and that is now a sacred cow?

      Sounds like the minimum tax on all, as Rainey or Rae of OGR stated above – works better…

    • 0
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      ACOSS always has a go at anyone not on welfare. They were the main culprits in decimating self funded retirees entitlements back in 2014/15.

      I think they want most people poor and just a few rich and absolutely no middle class at all. It’s quite odd when you listen to Goldie as it makes little sense.

      If everyone paid a .5% tax on all money they received/spent those evading tax just couldn’t. No deductions.

  9. 0
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    It is time for all of us (that means you) to rant at our MPs and Senators daily to take action for human decency and a huge stress reduction for pensioners

    NO ASSET TEST FOR A PENSION EVER AGAIN!
    A pension is not welfare.

    Most economist say we will save taxpayers money by dropping asset testing because of the massive overheads cost in running Centrelink and the 10,000 conflicting rules.

    Hiring more Centrelink staff will only increase taxpayer’s costs for processing the creeping insane red tape monster system politicians and well paid bureaucrats have created.

    Help scrap it now. Become a hero.

    Even poorer New Zealand has a NO ASSET pension so it is cheaper and user friendly.

    Why worry that few million$ earners get it too. That is peanuts to them, not enough for a good vintage champagne.

    Do retired and retiring people really look forward and want 100++ visits to/from Centrelink and be part of 3 million waiting queues and lost calls?

    Does your MP really like being part of the system that allows this indirect abuse of the elderly?

    This abuse is actually sponsored by our government and forced down to Centrelink and borders on a criminal act.

    Why do MPs normally compassionate persons let this Centrelink abuse happen at taxpayers’ expense?

    Some opposition and independent MPs stand to lose their chance at being part of the needed government changes

    We all need to tell our MP and senators every day that these criminal asset tests for a pension must be dropped now.

    Also contact opposition and independent MPs (today) who could help us to get a fair deal on pensions

    • 0
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      Do you place the exact same post every day? I replied to this last week. It’s getting a bit boring. The OAP is welfare.

    • 0
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      Suzley don’t engage. This post is here in its entirety most days and often multiple times in the same thread.

    • 0
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      Ignore your critics. Keep posting. The Aged Pension is a right.

    • 0
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      Suzley, are you OG in disguise ?
      He insists on calling the pension welfare when in fact the definition of Pension is “a regular payment made by the state to people of or above the official retirement age and to some widows and disabled people”.

      No mention of the word welfare so why do people keep on insisting calling it welfare ? Maybe it gives them a warm fuzzy feeling
      inside.

    • 0
      0

      Yes Suzly is right the OAP is welfare and should be renamed Seniors Welfare Payment so that people understand what it really is.

      I too am over this post as it is simply nonsense as put simply the New Zealand model is less than most people on the OAP in Australia get. I can hear the whinging already if such a policy was adopted.

    • 0
      0

      Well Suzley and OG do not get the pension and are just plain shitty about it; best would be to ignore the rants about pension being welfare. Do not really care anymore what you call it as long as I get some of it. You can sit there and feel superior – your stools still stink.

    • 0
      0

      Ah – so it’s NOT Old Geezer who is stealing letters from boxes and invading internet accounts to determine who is a rorter and who is not…

      I didn’t know that Suzley didn’t get the pension – but I know OG makes a motza out of his revenue strands and doesn’t vote and doesn’t pay tax and earns $80k pa out of a $200K investment portfolio and runs around helping people with Centrelink and other government agencies while donating excess veggies from his garden to the poor…..

      Funny thing is that it was I who first said that excess produce from our former property down south went to the poor – our strawberries were an incredible treat for them… then OG and
      Bonny got on that band wagon…

      We used to give all our excess to the Salvos …. for free…. them poor people could certainly use it….

    • 0
      0

      Sorry – don’t want to bad mouth the guilty – OG only makes $80k our of a $400k investment portfolio… not $200k…

      Must be a Mafia loan shark….

      Get outta my gym, Rocky.. ye’re a bum and allus been a bum.. now ye collect hard-earned money from dem dat can’t afford it… an’ you get out dere an’ stand over ’em.. you ain’t muy kinda boxer, Rocky… now get outta here!

    • 0
      0

      Trebor, you forgot to mention that OG does not pay rent nor does he own a home, but he DOES have solar power (presumably on his caravan in which he claims to house and feed vast numbers of homeless unemployed youths). Despite his income of $80K from his $400K investment portfolio (which is only a small PART of his total wealth – the part he CHOOSES to live on while the rest is allowed to grow) he manages to live on less than the aged pension and considers it more than adequate for everyone to live on. Not forgetting of course that he gets virtually everything that imposes cost on others (e.g. health care) for FREE and he claims pensioner discounts on everything he buys (because he doesn’t want to embarrass the seller by admitting he’s not a pensioner when they’ve assumed he is).

      So the sum total of this is that he assumes people who have to actually pay for their accommodation and pay for their electricity and pay for their health care and DO NOT have hundreds of thousands of savings and incomes of $80K a year SHOULD SOMEHOW MAGICALLY BE IN THE SAME POSITION AS HIM. And if they are not, it’s their fault.

      Oh, and I almost forgot. He doesn’t pay for heating either because he gets loads of firewood from the property he doesn’t own, and uses a log fire for heat (in his caravan, apparently!!!! The one that is packed to capacity with all those homeless unemployed he’s feeding and caring for! I hope, in those close quarters, they can keep far enough away from the fire to stay safe.)

    • 0
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      Sounds like a farmer or a hospitality resort to me. Neither are classes as a home as we know it.

    • 0
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      Well OG doesn’t pay rent, doesn’t own his own home so how does he live?, bludge off mates and family or maybe live in a tent out in the bush somewhere, maybe that is why he can save so much money but who wants to live like that.

    • 0
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      Could be a hotel or motel also. Not everyone lives in a home in the suburbs or owns their own property.

      Could be a manager on some rich person’s property also.

      Many retirees do property management for the wealthy and accommodation and board is the reward. We have thousands of foreign owned properties now since Howard opened the floodgates to the world’s wealthy ones. They all need caretakers.

      I’ve friends who move around managing motels for owners wanting a break since they retired and they rent out their own home.

      Apparently the demand for couples who can do this and keep accounts up to scratch and manage staff is large.

    • 0
      0

      Regardless of his living arrangements, he’s being disingenuous claiming to live well on less than the pension and not admitting his unique advantages.
      Therefore, he has no credibility whatever and should be condemned for his dishonesty.

    • 0
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      Yes I do own a luxury caravan but I only live in it a few months of the year when I travel around in it. No I don’t live in a motel or resort but live in a large house on a property rent free thanks to some good investment advice I received many moons ago. The government tells everyone you can’t do what I do but done the right way one can. I am protected should I be forced into a nursing home as the house I live in can’t be sold to cover the costs of the nursing home. Yes the house has solar panels and is heated by burning wood collected form the property.

      No I don’t collect welfare because I earn more than enough to live.

    • 0
      0

      It doesn’t get much more vile and disgusting than to gloat and boast about achieving a privileged status while admitting that the majority wouldn’t have a hope in hell of attaining the same benefit, OG.

      You really are the most obnoxious individual imaginable!

      People here are struggling, and all you can do is boast and gloat and dish out nasty denigrating comments and insults. Some of us actually are enough to want to support demands for reform. Some of us are unselfish and caring.

  10. 0
    0

    This is the result of the quasi socialist Governments we have had to endure during the last 30 years or more. In effect what we get is capitalism for the elite and socialism for the rest. This is what socialism brings. Do not vote for any of the mainstream parties if you want things to change. They are all tied to the apron strings of the UN. The UN is intent on making us all poor with its main ambition to flood all “white” nations with migrants from across gthe globe, but on a larger scale from Africa and the ME. Virtually all countries Australia included have agreed to the draft proposals of the UN Migration Act which is to be signed in December 2018. The US and Hungary will not sign. Australia must also not sign if it wants to retain any remnants of being an independent country.

    • 0
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      First thing Australia should do is leave the UN; it would save us a lot of money and we no longer would have to take any notice of the constant bleating about us not doing enough for the poor nations around the globe who have absolutely nothing to do with us. niemakawa knows what is going on and I totally endorse his views.

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