Young income support recipients unfairly targeted for Northbridge violence

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Young income support recipients unfairly targeted for Northbridge violence

August 31, 2020

The Western Australian Council of Social Service and the Youth Affairs Council of WA have expressed their significant disappointment at the continued stigmatism of young people receiving government income support.

“Young people have been among the hardest hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, with unemployment, housing instability and mental health pressures being at all-time highs. It is not only incorrect to link recent weekend anti-social behaviour in Northbridge to young JobSeeker recipients, it over-simplifies the challenges faced by vulnerable young West Australians,” said Ross Wortham, Chief Executive Officer at YACWA.

“Young people receiving the Coronavirus supplement, which is still below the minimum wage, can barely afford the essentials, let alone go out and get drunk, as their eligibility for these government payments take into account other household incomes,” Ross concluded.

“Actual research has shown that the increase to JobSeeker has lifted the incomes of people who are unemployed above the poverty line, some for the first time in their lives and that the Coronavirus Supplement had improved their quality of life, reduced financial stress, and helped them to pay overdue bills, [1]” said Louise Giolitto, Chief Executive Officer of WACOSS.

“Over 80 per cent of community service workers around the country have said the increased rates of income support were having a positive impact on the lives of the people they help.[2]

“We are in the midst of one of the greatest unemployment and economic crises in our nation’s history. We cannot blame the Coronavirus Supplement, which is enabling people to eat three meals a day and keep a roof over their head, for violence in Northbridge. It is reckless and irresponsible.

“Targeting people surviving on social security payments is something that I thought we had all moved past during this pandemic. Are we, or aren’t we, all in this together?” Louise concluded.

To gain insight into what young people are facing and to understand their needs economically and socially, YACWA has developed a well-researched recovery framework. The development of the framework received input from young people who have experienced significant and ongoing hardships resulting from COVID-19. Download 2020: A Framework for Young People’s Recovery from COVID-19 in Western Australia.

[1] 100 Families WA, The Impact of COVID-19 on Families in Hardship in Western Australia, research launched 21 August 2020.

[2] ACOSS Report, Australia’s Community Sector & COVID-19, research launched August 2020.

Download a PDF of this media release.

Media contacts

Laurene Coller, Communications Officer, WACOSS, [email protected], 0419 316 557.

Ross Wortham, Chief Executive Officer, YACWA, [email protected], 0450 085 562.

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