October 11, 2019 18:29:38

A new report written by young people in Tasmania on Youth Allowance or Newstart has found more than a third of respondents have had to steal food just to eat.

Key points:

  • Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients were interviewed for the Anti-Poverty Week report
  • More than a third had stolen food, and three-quarters had skipped meals because they had no money
  • Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch says increasing welfare payments is a matter for the Commonwealth

The Real Youth Survival Report surveyed 66 young people aged between 15 and 24.

Of the respondents, 36 per cent said they had stolen food because they were hungry.

And 74 per cent said they had been forced to skip a meal because they could not afford to eat.

One respondent said:

“Living like this isn’t living. It makes me want to die. I can barely afford to eat after paying all my bills.”

“These are supposed to be the best years of my life, but I’ve never felt worse.”

Of the respondents, 64 per cent said their financial position was a barrier to finding employment and 43 per cent had had their Centrelink payments suspended.

One wrote:

“I get $265 a fortnight and spend $168 for rent. I spend $50 for two weeks’ food and need $34 for eight days a fortnight to buy [a ticket] for the bus to be able to do the work-for-the dole activity.

“$11 a fortnight is my saving opportunity.

“How am I supposed to live?”

Some of the participants shared visualisations of their fortnightly budgets.

One budget, belonging to a participant named Sam, showed they were slightly over their $462.20 allowance, spending $150 on housing, $200 on food, $80 on power, $30 on phone credit and $15 on transport.

Kyle Rowbottom, 21, helped create the questionnaire and the report.

“It’s remarkable that people actually answered,” he said.

“I got a lot of feedback with what they’re actually struggling with.”

Renewed calls for welfare increases

The report was produced as part of a project with youth service provider Colony47.

CEO Danny Sutton said the report clearly showed Newstart and Youth Allowance payments needed to be increased.

“The knock-on effects are profound, ranging from homelessness to poor nutrition to lack of transport options, unemployment and dropping out of the education system,” he said.

Representatives of the project presented the final report to Tasmania’s Parliament as part of Anti-Poverty Week.

Minister for Human Services Roger Jaensch said he would happily forward the report to the Federal Government.

“I can see from the evidence that has been brought forward to us today the stresses and the pressures that young people are under,” he said.

But he stopped short of urging his federal colleagues to increase Newstart.

“The Government in Canberra needs to be listening to the voices of young people in making any future decisions about those schemes,” he said.

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor called for a Tasmanian unity ticket to lobby Canberra “to make the case for an increase in Newstart and Youth Allowance”.

“It’s the socially just and the right thing to do, and it’s the economically smart thing to do,” she said.









First posted

October 11, 2019 17:19:14

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