The Meeting Place

Newstart & Youth Allowance rates

Having left full time employment 4 yrs ago to take on a carer role for my seriously ill husband, I now find myself on Newstart having separated from my husband 8 mths ago and seeking part time employment.  I have extensive office administration experience in accounts payable, receivable, payroll, human resources having been employed in local government for the previous 5 years and the private sector locally (both in a NSW regional town) for the previous 10 years and decades of experience in Sydney prior to that.

I am using at least $70 per week of my superannuation, to which I had access when I left work to be a carer, to allow me to keep a roof over my head, pay rent on the land my home is on, run a car and computer and internet to seek work along with other daily essential expenses such as food, power, water, insurance etc.  

The low rate of Newstart even with the energy supplement, rent assistance and other allowances is so low that it is preventing recipients from being able to get employment and find a meaningful job.  Even if it was raised $75.00 per week, as is being campaigned for at the moment, it would still be only half the minimum wage!

I have another 5 years before I am eligible for the age pension and I genuinely want to work but between 65 and 190 people (some of whom are already employed elsewhere) are applying for every position!  Only 3 to 5 are being interviewed.  After many months on this roller coaster, it is taking a toll.  It is very demoralising to be constantly rejected and keep putting yourself out there, spending hours on each application, often to not even hear back.  I have had around 6 interviews, all of which have gone very well but either I came a close second, they placed someone internal in the position who wanted a change of role, they placed no one in the role and have decided to look for a specialist in one area of the position by re advertising or I was offered and accepted the position only to be informed two days later that it had been given to another candidate through another agency!  Considerable time is also spent scouring the internet and emails received from searches I have set up for any positions available and in chasing up applications as employers generally only notify candidates who are short listed for an interview.

Even when you are a glass half full kinda person, as I am, this is all extremely disappointing to say the least.  It has an impact on your mental health, particularly for those, like myself and I am certain many others, who are already in a difficult situation before trying to find employment!  I also have my Mum in a care centre with Alzheimers.  There are other family concerns weighing on my mind in addition to all the above.

To have the additional pressure of how am I going to live in retirement when I finally get there when I have to use my superannuation to survive now is just another load to carry and one that grows daily as I see the nest egg that I have been building for so much of my working life, disappearing before my eyes.

Like everyone else, I have paid taxes all my life and until now I have never needed any support from the Government.  Now that I do, I find the rate has shrunk in real terms to a level that makes it impossible to pay any rent anywhere in Australia, let alone eat, run a car, computer etc. to have any hope of getting off Newstart.  The average person my age on Newstart, is there for 3 years!


Maus, you are finding that life happens and your choices have consequences. Unfortunately you are not Robinson Crusoe finding yourself in difficult circumstances. The length of time on Newstart for 60-64 was an average of 187 weeks before signing off. Whereas ‘signing off’ for younger age groups means the recipient has landed a job, in many cases with the older unemployed cessation can often be explained by a transition to the Age Pension at 65 or death. Since this is an average more than half the Newstart recipients in your age group are likely spending more than four years before transition to the age pension. So flip a coin, do you feel lucky?

The toll on mental health dealing with job hunting reaches a point where people accept that they are unlikely to find gainful employment and simply retire, then volunteer to satisfy the over60 age Newstart requirements. Try to keep that glass half full.

Many of us have to wait until 67.  I will be volunteering soon but I will still be searching just with less time available to do so.  With limited superannuation I need to keep as much of it as I can and it is absolutely impossible to live on Newstart and seek work.  

With more of us waiting until 67 before qualifying for age pension that 187 weeks average on Newstart is going to tick up. Unfortunately you are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to your savings but I respectfully suggest it is higher priority to supplement Newstart in the short term as the pension will bring a big payday increase for you and less need to use your savings.

The rate of Newstart is a disgrace especially when the wealthy are in line for a significant tax cut coutesy of ScoMo. An increase in Newstart will do more for the economy than that tax cut will.

The rate of Newstart is a disgrace especially when the wealthy are in line for a significant tax cut coutesy of ScoMo. An increase in Newstart will do more for the economy than that tax cut will.

Newstart! A New start to WHAT!  I am a carer/wife to my husband that suffers from terminal cancer and dementia.  When I can no longer look after him or when I find myself alone I too will have to go on Newstart as I have to wait until I am 67 to qualify for Age pension.  We get the appropriate pensions at the moment and get by and we have the luxury of owning our own home.  I have no idea how I will live on Newstart on my own with very small amount of super saved but having done a very quick calculation, I will be very careful buying groceries and using water, heating, cooling etc etc, not to mention budgeting for land rates and insurance and the list goes on....I just hope I don't get sick because medicines cannot be budgeted for until you need them! NEWSTART is a disgrace and I feel for those in my age group that have to live on it. I have been looking after my husband for over 10 years now and probably saved the government alot of money, so I wonder if I could send them a bill for re-imbursement when and if the time comes!

Newstart is just a name but in reality it is a subsistence benefit. You will need to use your savings to supplement the Newstart payment if you wish to maintain any degree of comfort. Caring is a personal choice but it comes at a cost to the carer. Life happens and financially it does not always turn out how we might like or have anticipated. Fortunately you will receive a big payday when you become eligible for the age pension.

You are telling a well known story Maud.

The policies of the current government are to turn workers into dirt poor slaves who'll work for nothing whilst handing all wealth to the top end of town.  What else does one expect other than Newstart recipients to be beggars in future whilst lavish tax cuts go to the already wealthy.

Be careful who you vote for.  Oh yes....many voted for the criinal government we had to have because they want their piddly franking credits, a sign of how little democracy and this cuntry mean to them.

So many sad hardship stories Maus 2211 and grumpyoldwoman.

I hope for you and everyone like you that things get better for you in the future.

Thanks RnR, all support is very much appreciated.

It is true to say that it is easier to get a job when you have a job. I suggest you try widening your search and don't restrict it to admin roles you may have done before, rather apply for any job you can do regardless of what it actually is.

You say you only want part time work. Maybe in the short term you can apply for full time work as well and if you get it, keep looking for a part time role. This would at least get you some money rather than continuing to draw from your super.

Obviously looking for a job is a full time job in itself and should be treated that way. It can be very time consuming to keep redoing your CV but that is what it takes. You can't have a one-size-fits-all resume; each application must be unique for that particular job.

You have also been out of the workforce for 4 years albeit as a carer. Have a look at this online learning site It has free short courses from universities and colleges round the world. If you want a certificate then you have to pay but the courses and any assessments are free. Some may be of general interest and others may help with the job search.

And I don't want to add to your woes but you should probably check whether you can continue to draw your super given you are no longer a carer and the grounds for accessing it have gone.

I apply for any roles for which I am qualified.  Most positions advertised provide a list of selection criteria which must be addressed in your application.  If you do not have the criteria listed as essential, it is a complete waste of everyone's time applying as your application is immediately eliminated.  This is the reality with so many applicants for each job.  Programs scan applications in many instances and if criteria are not met, human eyes never see your resume.  My experience with applying for retail has been that employers prefer applicants with recent retail experience, mine being 23 years ago.  There are medical and family reasons why I am only able to apply for part time work.  I have however applied for a number of full time roles, requesting consideration of job share and the benefits it can provide to employers.  The applicant numbers are similar to part time.

Searching for work is very time consuming but it is imperative that you spend time on uplifting interactions with others, interests, exercise, socialising and having fun to balance out the roller coaster of emotions, hope and rejection that are part and parcel of the journey of long term job hunting.  It is critical to your ability to put your best foot forward in your application preparation and to present your most confidently at interviews.  Addressing the selection criteria as requested in most advertised positions takes many hours to draft, check, edit and submit along with a covering letter tailored to each job.  My resume has been reduced to two pages, as recommended by my job provider and the tailoring for each job comes in the area of addressing the selection criteria.  Unless they have experienced personally long term unemployment I think most people have no idea just how demeaning, demoralising and frustrating the journey is and the mental toll it takes.

With regard to the super, I am able to access it, as mentioned in my first post, without it I would not be able to cover the bare essentials let alone anything more.  What is effectively my superannuation is not in a super fund at present and is therefore accessible.

I am in the process of gaining volunteer work for 15 hrs per week and will also be continuing my search for part time work but with restricted availability to scour the internet for positions vacant, prepare applications and attend interviews.  I will then no longer need to attend 3 weekly demeaning appointments with my "job provider" nor will I have the pressure of having to apply for the monthly quota when there are not that many part time jobs advertised.  As a Centrelink employee said to me years ago "they spend so much time trying to catch a mouse, they miss the elephant!"  I also visit businesses, introduce myself to the person responsible for hiring staff and leave a cover letter and resume with them.  I have lived and worked in this area for 23 years and have spoken to a great many business people and advised them of my situation and asked them to contact me should they hear of any suitable employment.  I am very aware, however, that people's lives are very busy and unless they hear of something soon after I speak with them, they either forget or assume I have found work.

In my role as carer, I had extensive interaction with the NDIS advocating for my husband's needs with Occupational Therapists and various staff within the NDIS.  Paying accounts, sourcing suppliers, making claims etc.

I am getting interviews even with the huge odds so I believe my applications and resume are having the desired impact but the reality is there are SO many people applying for each and every job that even the best candidates are struggling to cut through, especially with ageism alive and well in most industries.

I too was in similar situation and came within a hair's breath of losing my house and going back to renting. A few years from Aged Pension, I was dumped on to Newstart, having to deal with JSP's, which is beyond demoralizing. Told to 'dumb down' my resume, not to dress so professional for interviews, etc. I had happily planned to work for some more years until I inherited the boss from hell. She had been moved from another dept due to complaints, they would not get rid of her. She made it quite clear that old workers were a drain on the dept, and the only way to keep sane was to resign. Even with super references, experience and training, could not get a job, and had to live on Newstart. To keep my house, I had to use most of my super. I now do not even bother to apply for jobs as it is a total waste of time, effort, and money. Unlike many youngsters, people over 60 are not on Newstart by choice,  it is not a chosen life choice. I just heavens, God, and everything else that I am now on the Aged Pension, and quiet happy to do that. I have bloody well earned it.

Mauss - you sound so similar to what I went through. Boy do I know what you mean about 'selection criteria' submissions! Half the time it boils down to who has paid someone to write the application. I was working in a govt position in a contract position, constantly being renewed. After 4 years, they decided to make the position permanent, so they have to advertise. I had to apply for the position - and voila! - I didn't get it. I was 64, and I lost out to an 18 year old. Firstly - her only previous experience was working in a local milk bar. Secondly - her father was going out with my suerpvisor, who also happened to be one of the 3 on my interview panel. Thirdly - I absolutely refuse to believe she wrote a better application. Feedback I got was - they felt "she was in a better position to take the position forward". By that, I assume they thought I wouldn't be around long enough to stay in the position. I appealed, but of course got no-where. The last straw was they wanted me to teach her Excel - which I refused. After I left, they sent her to courses, and I was blackballed for any govt position. 

I recently saw a local govt casual position, was only for 6 months. BUT they still wanted you to address SIX selection criterias, the stupid thing though was they wanted this on ONE page. I didn't apply - it takes so long to address each job's SC, but trying to put that on one page - that is just stupid.

As for expanding the search to other positions - yeah, tried that. But again you face the 'no experience'. Or you need a certificate for everything now. Retail - want a certificate. Casual vet nurse - need a certificate. Like you, I cared for someone for 18 months, covering wound dressing, medication supervision, etc. But to do any work in Aged Care - need a certificate. I recently saw a position relevant to my years of experience. Ad specifically stated 'would suit a retired mature person', and needed to have a whole list of experience and use of specific computer packages. BUT pay was $18 an hour! I actually rang them as I know for a fact the award rate for an adult was $19.41 - and that's with no experience. I was stunned when I was told 'there will be some senior person who would be happy to earn any income'. Wasn't going to be me. 

It's demoralising and insulting to discard seniors from the job pool, but it's intrenched with employers. Even local supermarkets prefer younger ones - or, as I recently found out, if you have a relative working there, you are almost guaranteed of getting a job.  Good luck..

Don't think for a minute I have not been in this position. I have. Three times! The difference is that feeling sorry for yourself doesn't get you a job. It comes across in both applications and in interviews. A defeatist attitude is plainly evident to interviewers and they don't want that in their workplace. Yes it's tough. Yes it's demoralising. But self pity doesn't pay the rent. It's not always about getting a job you are qualified to do. It's about getting a job you are capable of doing even if that is at a lower level or in a different field. Yes answer the criteria, but relate it to skills and attributes not job titles. If it's a lower level then have a good reason why this is your chosen path. If it is retail then you are the product - sell it! 

The ONLY positives I can say about the Dole --lets call it what it really is, as Newstart is just BS- is that it really taught me how to budget down to the last cent, so when I hit the pension age 10 years ago I was streets ahead 

Another thing it taught me is what little dictatorial shits there were at the Salvos Job network


I would send your post to all the politicians you can, see what they have to say, they need to hear more from people like you. I would also phone as many as you can, meet as many as you can, this will keep you busy yes, but it needs to be done, gather other people in your area to join you, start a facebook page for it, anything so you can campaign to make the changes that are needed, do not feel hopeless, feel empowered to make changes. Also contact your local charities who can help you out with support whether it is just a food parcel or petrol voucher or just someone to talk to. Your skills can earn you money through places like Airtasker, or start a small business, there is also the NEIS scheme you can do to get support to start a small business. And sell anything you do not need on ebay and gumtree to boost your savings. Good luck. Please follow up later and let us all know how you get on, many others are in your position. Rather than volunteer to do your 15 hours why not do some more study in an interest that could get you on your way to be self employed.

I have met with my local elected Federal member and I will be meeting with my local Mayor with a representative from Australian Council of Social Services next monthe when he visits the area to ask Council to pass a motion supporting a raise to Newstart immediately.  Around 35 Councils have already passed such a motion including one quite near to me.  With some medical issues, I am not in a position to, nor do I have an idea for a small business and I really don't think that is for me anyway.  My understanding is that I must volunteer and I am awaiting details from a couple of possibilities next week.  Another lady I met through the raise the rate campaign and I keep in touch and we visited the local member together.  I do post a number of ACOSS posts on facebook to raise awareness of the situation for those on Newstart and Youth Allowance and how many of us are over 50 and genuinely wish to work, have life skills to offer but the struggle is real no matter how much of a positive spin we put on all our applications and how confidently we interview.  I will check out Airtasker, thanks. 

Support is growing from organisations such as Country Womens' Association, Business Council of Australia, Charitable organisations who witness the daily struggle of so many, all coming on board to push for the rate increase.  Anyone who understands the need for this increase can also speak to their local member and assist.  You don't need to be receiving one of the payments.  A recent survey by ACOSS showed 72% of people support the raise of Newstart and Youth Allowance.  If sufficient pressure can be brought to bear, the government will have to act.  A senate inquiry into raising the rate is happening soon and we will all be making submissions for that.  All support from understanding, compassionate folk like yourself, is very, very much appreciated.  Thank You.  

Good on you Maus221q, I applaud your efforts, and like you say we have to keep the pressure on this Government, I hope we do not have to wait until the next election to see it raised.

Perhaps we could just send them a url for this conversion! I do not have the time to do all of this stuff, if only I did wow what a luxury that would be! Have a good day guys, I have some carer stuff to do!

A very illustrative article about surviving on Newstart with the budgets for each person:

'It's a struggle to get by'

Thanks for sharing the article RnR, a graphic snapshot of what so many are dealing with.  Hopefully it will help raise awareness in the hearts and minds of Australians who do not understand fully the situation now.

The labelling is extremely damaging to those on Newstart who are genuinely seeking employment of any kind they are capable of.  When it is not actually spoken, it is often inferred with comments indicating they think there is more you could be doing to find employment.


I read the article, it seems that there is more these people can do but they do not want to change, sometimes you just have to make sacrifices.

Peter should sell up and move to the country, he will never get a job.

Bev should also move to the country and have her son visit her their, paying $300 a week for a bed sit is ridiculous, why suffer like that, at least she is getting family allowance and child support some people don't get that, it is either family allowance for the child or youth allowance (or study allowance). For $300 a week in the country she gets a full size house and a backyard she can grow food.

Greta is in dire straits, she could end up homeless easily, I hope she gets work soon.

Tom is in a much better position, younger and more resilient, and has people to share with, he should busk everyday, you can make a good living doing that.

These stories are just the tip of the iceberg which is going to melt very soon, we are going to see many more homeless people like in USA and that is what this Government wants, to be like the USA, who don't about the poor. Many homeless people in the USA actually have jobs and cannot afford housing. The jobs that were supposed to be created by the current Government are getting taken up by immigrants, we cannot keep on this path, we need to curb immigration, train our people and create jobs that are not just temporary, contract or part time, they need to be full time with security. Bring back more Government jobs and stop outsourcing everything!