Image credit: Joshua Rawson Harris
Living affordability advocacy
Rebooting the system
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Living affordability advocacy
QCOSS is driven by an aspiration for a better future for all, and particularly for people who are experiencing the most vulnerability in our communities. We are committed to overturning the systems that create and perpetuate inequality.
The basic cost of living has been increasing year on year for Queenslanders, with rising energy and water costs, rents, and a punitive income support system continuing to entrench disadvantage in our communities.
Our research has shown time and time again that we need to strengthen Australia’s social safety net to help eliminate disadvantage and poverty by increasing income support.
Of great concern is the ongoing stigmatisation of income support recipients. We saw this through the continuation of the Cashless Debit Card Trials in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay regions, the passage of legislation allowing for Drug Testing Trials, and Centrelink’s automated income-averaging ‘Robodebt’ scheme raising erroneous debts which disproportionately affected Queenslanders on low incomes.
In a win for our advocacy, and only after a class action lawsuit was initiated, the federal government finally admitted in February 2020 that many ‘Robodebts’ were “not lawfully raised”, initiating $721 million worth of refunds to 370,000 Australians.
QCOSS is also a proud participant of ACOSS’ Raise the Rate campaign, which this year increased the pressure on our politicians to commit to a permanent increase to JobSeeker (formerly Newstart) and other income support payments, which have not increased in real terms for more than 25 years.
Image credit: Cade Martin
Could you live on
$40 per day?
Our position statement on The Adequacy of Newstart and related payments found the overall amount received by a single person was less than 40 per cent of the average minimum wage. Pre-pandemic this equated to living on $40 per day.
In March 2020 the federal government introduced the temporary ‘Coronavirus Supplement’ of $550 per fortnight as a direct response to the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, and ultimately as a quiet acknowledgement that the current payment level is far too low.
QCOSS and the Councils of Social Service (COSS) network will continue advocating to Raise the Rate for Good and to secure a permanent and adequate increase.
More than 25,000 households were on the waitlist for social housing in Queensland in May 2020
For many years we have called for additional social housing
Building homes for those who are experiencing housing insecurity, homelessness or who are on the social housing waitlist, and renovating homes for seniors and people with disability directly benefits communities across Queensland.
We were heartened by the Queensland Government’s announcement of a $100 million Works for Tradies relief package in June 2020, including $10 million for a Seniors’ and Accessibility Renovations Grants program – getting people back to work, and families into homes over the next few years.
As part of our wider COVID-19 response, ensuring frontline organisations could continue to deliver services to people and families in need was also vital as demand began to sharply increase. QCOSS moved fast and was able to secure a guarantee from Treasurer Cameron Dick ensuring existing Queensland Government contracts would continue to be funded, and any amendments would be made as required.