Report Reveals Children Suffering Under Newstart
25 February 2019 at 3:57 pm
Children living in jobless households are bearing the brunt of low payment welfare schemes, according to a report which has reignited calls to raise Newstart and family support payments.
The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) report found children in jobless families were more likely to suffer from a greater number of deprivations than any other group examined.
Children in jobless households were four times more likely to be homeless, nearly twice as likely to be bullied, and almost two and a half times more likely to be missing out on learning at home than children in families where an adult worked.
Penny Dakin, CEO of ARACY, said the report provided evidence that the level of Newstart and the support given to jobless families is inadequate, and should be raised by $75 a week.
“Our research shows that when a child grows up in a home where no one is working, they are much more likely to face major obstacles on a number of fronts, well beyond simply not having enough money,” Dakin said.
“Our punitive unemployment benefits system is adding to the hardship these children face. Kids born into families where no one works have no choice in the matter, yet they are effectively penalised because of the stigma attached to their parents.”
The report examined the deprivation levels of children across Australia, with a particular focus on those living in jobless households, children with disability and children living below the poverty line.
It said children with disability were more likely to be experiencing social exclusion both at school and in the community. While children living below the poverty line were nearly two times more likely to face food insecurity, nearly twice as likely to lack good relationships with friends and almost two and a half times more likely to be missing out on learning at home.
For all Australian children, the highest rate of deprivation at all stages was through bullying and social exclusion, as high as 28 per cent at ages eight to nine.
“Deprivation in children’s health… tends to get worse over time with almost 40 per cent of children deprived in this dimension at age 10-11,” the report said.
It also said one quarter of children surveyed aged 10 to 11, did not eat any fruit or vegetables in a day and almost one in 10 children, aged six to seven, showed signs of social emotional stress.
Dakin said a low Newstart rate was ensuring some kids faced a range of extra problems.
“It’s time to raise the Newstart rate and give kids in these families a fair go,” she said.
Greens senator, Rachel Siewert said the report demonstrated an immediate need for action on raising Newstart and income support payments.
“Our woefully low income support payment rates and punitive unemployment framework are having a direct impact on child poverty,” Siewert said.
“The urgency of raising Newstart becomes more stark with report after report showing how inadequate Newstart is and the impact it is having on our community.”
ARACY made five other recommendations including a food regulation body to stop unhealthy food marketing reaching children, prioritising early intervention mental health programs for young kids, establishing evidence based anti-bullying programs in schools, being more inclusive of children with disability in school, and getting better data on children to better understand their issues.
Siewert encouraged Australians to look after the country’s most vulnerable.
“We need to be looking after families when they fall on tough times, it could happen to anyone,” she said.
“Poverty in early childhood leads to poorer outcomes and if we don’t address this now, we are condemning members of our community to poor health and education outcomes.”