The 2023-24 Federal Budget, handed down tonight, includes some positive investments to ease current cost of living pressures experienced by millions of Australians and support vital services such as Medicare, but a modest increase to the Jobseeker payment does almost nothing to lift vulnerable people out of poverty, says Jesuit Social Services.

“Treasurer Jim Chalmers describes this as a responsible budget that prioritises those most in need. We think that in the midst of an extremely challenging period of our history defined by unprecedented cost of living pressures, this Budget makes some very positive investments that will improve outcomes for a number of Australians doing it tough,” says Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie

“Measures such as an expansion of the Parenting Payment Single which will increase payments to
more than 55,000 single parents across the country, energy bill relief for millions of households, pay increases for aged care workers, abolishing the punitive ParentsNext program and a tripling of the bulk billing incentive are sensible, welcome investments that will make a tangible difference to the
lives of many. With the climate crisis one of the most significant issues facing current and future generations of Australians, we also support the creation of a Net Zero Authority that will help to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy,” says Ms Edwards.

Ms Edwards says the announcement of a $200 million plan to address entrenched disadvantage, including funding place-based partnerships, can empower and equip communities to achieve longterm change for future generations.

“Through our research into locational disadvantage conducted over more than 20 years including five major reports, most recently Dropping off the Edge 2021, we know that a small number of communities across the country continue to bear the brunt of complex and multi-faceted forms of disadvantage, which limits people’s life opportunities,” says Ms Edwards.

“There can be no one-size-fits-all solution to addressing entrenched disadvantage as the strengths and challenges of each community are unique to them. We are optimistic that this funding package can support community-led reform.”

Ms Edwards says that a modest $40 per fortnight increase to the Jobseeker payment and other related payments, with a higher payment for Jobseeker recipients aged over 55, will leave too many Australians still living below the poverty line.

“We know that many aspects of the cost of living are at near record highs, including rental prices, petrol, groceries and other essentials, which makes it even less sustainable for a Jobseeker recipient to live a dignified life. We saw during the pandemic that increased payments reduced measures of poverty and housing stress, but a very modest increase of $2.80 per day will sadly make little difference to many.

“We will continue to support the calls from those eking out an existence on Jobseeker, and from the community sector, for the base rate to be at least $73 per day – our political leaders must create a fair social safety net that ensures all Jobseeker recipients can afford an adequate standard of living.”

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