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Senate backs calls for a review of rent assistance payments


16 October 2019 at 5:01 pm
Luke Michael
This follows research showing 170,000 Australian homes were left with less than $35 a day after paying rent


Luke Michael | 16 October 2019 at 5:01 pm


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Senate backs calls for a review of rent assistance payments
16 October 2019 at 5:01 pm

This follows research showing 170,000 Australian homes were left with less than $35 a day after paying rent

The Senate is calling on the federal government to review the level of Commonwealth Rent Assistance, amid fears the payment has not kept up with rising rents.  

Greens Senator Dr Mehreen Faruqi passed a motion in the Senate on Tuesday – to coincide with Anti-Poverty Week – urging action on CRA payments.

It comes after The Productivity Commission found two thirds of low-income renters in Australia were in rental stress – spending more than 30 per cent of their earnings on rent.

This leaves 170,000 Australian homes with less than $35 a day after covering rental payments.

Faruqi said it was fantastic to see the Senate supporting the motion during a week focused on eradicating poverty.

“It is unacceptable that so many people already on low incomes are falling into financial stress just to put a roof over their head. Everyone has the right to a safe, secure and permanent home,” Faruqi said.

“When even the Productivity Commission concludes that rent assistance hasn’t kept up with rising rents, you know we have a problem.”

Faruqi added that low-income renters in particular were being met with both soaring rents and a lack of appropriate social support.

“I urge the government to act immediately and announce a review so we can get on with resolving this long-running issue,” Faruqi said.

This call has already been backed by the Australian Council of Social Service, which says CRA should be raised by at least 30 per cent – around $20 per week – pending a future review of the payment.

Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam told the Senate on Tuesday that the Morrison government understood that “having a roof over your head and food on the table [was] crucial to the welfare of all Australians”.

He said the government has spent $4.6 billion in CRA payments and provided states and territories with more than $1.5 billion a year, through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement.


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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One comment

  • Avatar LM says:

    Why not rent assistance for all low-income households? Rent Assistance is only available to Centrelink recipients. The average full-time wage, especially for single women over 45 is around $52000 gross which is $40,000 net – poverty line – and this income rules out any government assistance. Paying rent in the private market consumes at least 56-60% of a weekly income. Move to a cheaper area? Not that easy as jobs tend to be located in City centres and if you do not have the right address a recruitment firm will not consider your suitability a potential employee – It is very discriminating in the job market for women over the age of 45. It is impossible to hold a full-time position if you do not live close to your workplace and city rents are unaffordable – More needs to be discussed and implemented for low-income single women aged between the ages of 45-85yrs. I am happy to consult on this issue.

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