The federal government must permanently and substantially raise the rate of income support payments and back community-led job creation proposals, a coalition of Aboriginal and human rights organisations says.
The Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (APO NT), NT Council of Social Services (NTCOSS) and Human Rights Law Centre have joined hundreds of organisations and individuals around Australia in calling for a permanent increase in Jobseeker and other social security payments.
They have signed an open statement supporting today’s National Day of Action organised by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) at https://raisetherate.org.au/.
NT Aboriginal families, almost half of whom live below the poverty line, have been hit particularly hard by inadequate unemployment support and remote area allowance payments.
Aboriginal people make up just a third of the NT population, but represent 70 per cent of consumers of the NT health system.
They have been trapped in ill health and poverty not only by inadequate support payments, but the discriminatory and punitive work-for-the-dole scheme and compulsory income quarantining.
The government’s community development program has stifled job creation and financially penalised people forced to work for less than a fair wage.
At the same time the cost of food and other essentials in remote communities has been growing, with a basket of healthy food estimated to cost $319 more in a community store than in a Darwin supermarket.
The poorest Territorians are paying close to 60 per cent more for their groceries.
Deborah Di Natale (NTCOSS CEO): “I have seen first-hand the ridiculously high prices in remote communities and the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables on the shelves. This level of inequity should not be tolerated in a country that prides itself on a fair go.”
Joe Martin-Jard (Central Land Council CEO and APO NT representative):“The temporary coronavirus supplement has improved the health of Aboriginal people in remote communities, with stores reporting to CLC staff increased sales of fresh food, essential white goods and warm winter items, as well as a decrease in requests for emergency relief.”
Raising incomes for those who are unable to work or where few jobs exist is absolutely critical but must go hand in hand with a serious commitment to jobs creation in the bush.”
“For those who can and want to work we have a pathway into the world of properly paid employment – we just need the government to act on our remote job creation plan.”
Adrianne Walters (Associate Legal Director, Human Rights Law Centre):“We cannot go back to the indignity of people scraping to survive on $40 a day. The Government should permanently raise payments and end discrimination in the social security system to ensure every person has enough money to live a decent life.”
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