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MEDIA RELEASE: ACOSS calls on Albury and Wodonga Councils to pledge support for ‘Raise the Rate’ campaign for Newstart recipients

The ‘Raise the Rate’ campaign is visiting Albury today to meet with local residents receiving the Newstart allowance and to call on the Albury and Wodonga Councils to pledge their support for the campaign.    

The ‘Raise the Rate’ campaign is a national campaign coordinated by ACOSS (Australian Council of Social Service). ACOSS CEO Dr. Cassandra Goldie will be hosting a community forum today which will hear from local residents receiving Newstart who will share their stories about how tough it is to survive on the current rate of $39 per day.

“Raising the rate of Newstart will make a huge, tangible difference in the lives of the 2,100 people receiving Newstart in Albury and the 1,300 Newstart recipients in Wodonga,” said Ms Goldie.

“Not only will increasing the rate benefit those receiving the Allowance, it will also improve social participation, strengthen local communities and increase participation in paid work.”  

Analysis released by ACOSS (Australian Council of Social Service) has revealed that raising the rate of Newstart by $75 a week will generate an additional $9.9 million in income for the Albury economy and a further $6.4 million in income for the Wodonga economy.

“In these uncertain economic times, it is more important than ever before that people looking for paid work can keep a roof over their heads, pay their bills, and put food on their tables for their family.  

“We are in Albury today to call on the Albury and Wodonga Councils to sign up to the campaign and to be a voice for their residents who are desperately trying to find work under difficult and changing economic conditions.”

The Raise the Rate campaign has seen business groups, charities, unions and local councils (22 across the country, representing over 1.6 million residents) unite to call on the Government to raise the rate of Newstart, the payment for people looking for paid work, which has not been raised in real terms for over two decades. 

Local Newstart recipient, Emily, a 39 year old sole parent who will be sharing her story at the community forum, said, “I have had serious health problems in recent years that have restricted my ability to work in my normal profession. Access to medical services has been limited by my financial capacity. I had to seek food parcels and electricity vouchers to make ends meet and I worry constantly about whether I will be able to pay the rent.” 

“The stress of the situation has taken its toll on me – I feel frustrated and like my life is out of control and there is no end in sight. I have an 8 year old son who is gifted, but there is no additional support for him, financial or otherwise, so he goes without a lot at a time in his life when he most needs to broaden his horizons. We can’t afford to travel so my son has never seen the ocean or the snow; he doesn’t ask for big birthday parties and never makes a Christmas list. Children raised on Newstart don’t have a childhood – poverty is the single defining feature of their existence.”

Event details:

When: 2PM, Friday, March 1st

Where: Global Village, 1076 Mate Street, North Albury

Who: CEO of ACOSS, Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS Campaign Coordinator Pas Forgione and local residents receiving Newstart will be available for interview

Contact: Bronte Kerr, 0411 676 269

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