Federal Budget cost-of-living support welcome but not enough
The 2023 Federal Budget included some welcome support for the vulnerable but won’t be enough to lift Queenslanders out of poverty and homelessness, according to state charity Vinnies Queensland.
While the Society acknowledges the Budget includes some measures for immediate support towards cost-of-living, it considers the long-term funding falls short of what is needed to make a meaningful impact on the lives of struggling Queenslanders.
Vinnies Queensland CEO Kevin Mercer said he welcomed changes to JobSeeker and the Commonwealth Rental Assistance (CRA) program, however the monetary increase did not reflect the appropriate level of need.
“All across Queensland, we are hearing the same story – if you’re on JobSeeker or the Commonwealth Rental Assistance program, the payments are an inadequate reflection of cost-of-living and rental increases,” Mr Mercer said.
“From 2021 to 2022, Queensland’s rent costs increased by an average of $104 a week – three times the rate of inflation. Last night’s announcement of an increase to the CRA of $31 a fortnight is not enough.
“The same can be said for JobSeeker’s increase of $40 a fortnight, which is far short of the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee’s recent recommendation of an increase of $132.50 a week.”
“Even after this increase, residents on JobSeeker will receive $52.37 a day – still far below the poverty line of $87.32.
Mr Mercer said requests for help received by the Society in 2023 shows a 20 per cent increase from 2022, and the amount of support required to help people survive has nearly doubled.
“The rate of homelessness in Queensland is increasing three times faster than the rest of Australia and we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of people reaching out for help,” he said.
Mr Mercer shared his disappointment the Budget included little new funding for desperately needed social housing across metro and regional Queensland.
“We urge the Federal Government to expand their housing vision and the parameters of the proposed Housing Australia Future Fund.
“We also urge them to work with the Queensland Government on increased support and funding so they can adequately respond to the crisis we are seeing across the state.”
A recent report by QCOSS found Queensland would need to construct 11,000 affordable and social homes annually for the next 10 years to meet current and future demand.
Mr Mercer also welcomed the Government’s decision to lift the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation liability cap of the Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator by $2 billion to $7.5 billion.
Townsville resident Luke* found for himself just how dire the housing market had become in his community when even the local homelessness shelters had run out of room.
“Every private rental I went to had 40+ people applying for the same house,” he said.
“I didn’t have full-time work at the time, so I just wasn’t getting a look in.
“I found myself with just a sleeping bag, sleeping by the river as I waited for a space in the hostels to become available.
“I knew there was nothing for me left in the private rental market.”
In 2023 Vinnies Queensland has provided more than $6.8m in direct emergency support for Queensland’s most vulnerable community members.