30 March 2022
ANGLICAN social justice organisations have criticised one-off $250 payments promised in the federal budget for Australians accessing social support payments, saying they fail to fix underlying problems.
Under the budget released on Tuesday people accessing income support payments such as the aged care pension and JobSeeker have been promised a one-off $250 payment in April.
Christian leaders did welcome some other budget measures, such as 16,500 additional places for refugees from Afghanistan.
But Brotherhood of St Laurence acting executive director Dr Lucia Boxelaar said one-off payments did very little to address long-term issues, such as poverty.
Dr Boxelaar said without an adequate social security system too many Australians would continue to live in poverty, and be exposed to the worst effects of current and future crises.
She said much more needed to be done to address the structural barriers to work for people who were long-term unemployed.
“Rather than blaming and punishing individuals, the federal government needs to invest in the social infrastructure and meaningful, tailored employment support that people need to find work,” Dr Boxelaar said.
Dr Boxelaar said measures to address climate were also disappointing, as there was no clear and ambitious plan to support households to respond to climate change.
She said Australia needed investment in lasting measures to reduce cost of living pressures, such as targeted home energy efficiency and rooftop solar upgrades for low-income households.
Anglicare Australia acting executive director Maiy Azize said the government said the budget would help people meet everyday costs, but it seemed blind to those who were struggling most.
Ms Azize said Australia need to fix its problems, rather than put a Band-Aid over them.
“Living costs are spiralling, people are still recovering from the pandemic, and many communities are reeling after floods and storms. One-off payments and tax cuts are not the answer to these problems, and Australians know it,” Ms Azize said.
“Millions of Australians are trapped in housing stress. And hundreds of thousands of people out of work are stuck on payments that are frozen on dangerously low levels.
“We know what we need to do to make Australia fairer – invest in housing for those in need, create secure jobs, and raise payments over the poverty line.”
Australian Council for Social Services chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said the budget was full of temporary fixes, rather than permanent solutions.
She welcomed some temporary payments, but said they did little to help people on low incomes in the long-term.
Dr Goldie said while the government said the budget addressed the cost of living, the budget actually did little to address the biggest cost of living, housing.
“This budget ignores the big challenges that this country faces right now, which are poverty, inequality and climate change,” Dr Goldie said.
Micah Australia executive director Tim Costello said he was pleased the federal government had listened to Christians’ calls for Australia to lift its intake of refugees from Afghanistan.
Micah Australia said the latest announcement meant Australia would offer more than 30,000 refugee visas to Afghan nationals over the next four years.
Mr Costello said into the future, the number of places available in Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian program needed to rise, as the world faced a global refugee crisis on a scale not seen since the end of World War II.
He urged the government to provide a pathway to permanent protection for refugees and asylum seekers waiting in limbo for nearly a decade on temporary protection visas.