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What Australia needs going forward is a decent and fair welfare safety net. Not a punitive one. We need to take care of each other and not allow people to live in relative poverty in Australia. The JobSeeker rate should be permanently raised to its current coronavirus #covid19 level. We don’t know that all those jobs that were lost will be recreated. We don’t know the economy will reset. What I do know is that people cannot live above the poverty line in Australia on ~$300 a week if they have to pay rent. That is just a reality. If we return JobSeeker to the previous Newstart rate, we will I think, risk much higher homelessness, inequality, and relative poverty of young people, and increasingly families and children in Australia.
If you are living in poverty — how are you to find your way out of it without a helping hand? I hope that if coronavirus has taught us anything is that these social safety nets were created after the war for a reason. We should work as a society and care about each others welfare. Every person is important. Every job is critical. Government and super funds should be investing now in the 350,000 to 500,000 affordable housing needed in cities across Australia. People need a safe place to live and they need work.
We are currently building only 3000 affordable dwellings a year (1). A flaccid and weak attempt to deliver what the nation and it’s people need. A failing on our people. Impotence in the investment into affordable housing over the last 25 years across the the nation has a created a shortfall of 433,000 homes (1). Just mull on the number for a while, 433,000. That is almost half a million homes that should have been built already. Homes we needed yesterday. Homes that would help millions from falling into poverty. Homes that would raise hundreds of thousands, maybe over a million, in this country out of poverty (2). Just before the pandemic hit, there were 3, 000, 000 — that’s 3 million people — in Australia living in poverty, that is 1 in 8 adults and 1 in 6 children. Living. In. Poverty (2). With another 1 million unemployed now, that number could rise substantially, maybe by a quarter or even double if something isn’t done soon.
The nation needs stimulus — right now — at this moment. What better thing could we as a nation do than secure the future safety of shelter to our young and at risk populations? I can’t think of a better way to stimulate the economy. Much better return in the long run than tax cuts to big companies that we, at this time, can’t afford.
The picture I chose for this article is a wonderfully beautiful Art Deco — Depression era building in Sydney. An example of one of the many fine structures built back then. We can build to stimulate our economy. We have done it before. We just need to prioritise what we need.
(1) Julie Lawson, Hal Pawson, Laurence Troy and Ryan van den Nouwelant https://theconversation.com/australia-needs-to-triple-its-social-housing-by-2036-this-is-the-best-way-to-do-it-105960 date accessed 10 May 2020
(2) Acoss. Poverty in Australia. Is there poverty in Australia? URL: http://povertyandinequality.acoss.org.au/poverty/ date accessed 10 May 2020