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MEDIA RELEASE: New economic inclusion report provides a roadmap out of disadvantage

The Brotherhood of St. Laurence 2 mins read

The Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) welcomes the 2024 report from the independent Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee (the Committee) and urges the Federal Government to act on the recommendations as part of the upcoming Federal Budget.

The 22 recommendations in the Committee’s report are a shared view between leaders from business, unions and the community sector, economists and academic experts. If implemented, they will make a real difference in the lives of those doing it toughest and shape a better economy and society for all.

The Committee – which BSL’s Executive Director Travers McLeod is a member of – sought out and included the views of people with lived experience of poverty and disadvantage in their report. The Committee’s report also presents a new economic inclusion framework, which offers a pathway for growing economic inclusion for people in Australia experiencing poverty and disadvantage. 

While BSL recognises the Albanese Government has implemented new and updated investments on economic inclusion since May 2022 and continues to navigate a difficult economic environment, further investment must be prioritised so Australians trapped in poverty do not fall further behind.

Alongside a further substantial increase to Jobseeker and Commonwealth Rent Assistance and improvements to Australia’s early childhood development system, the Committee found that to achieve the full social and economic benefits that growing economic inclusion could deliver, there must be comprehensive reform of the employment services system. Only a fundamental shift away from a system based on deficit and punishment towards supporting the capability and confidence of job seekers and meaningful engagement of employers will bring about the change that all parties are seeking.

The potential benefits are immense: inclusive full employment will increase economic activity and ease pressure on government spending – not to mention the benefits of secure employment to households and families. The report notes that with the government planning to spend more than $9.5 billion on the existing flawed employment services over the next four years, time wasted is money wasted.

Many of the Committee’s recommendations – including the projected investment in our failing employment services system – do not require additional funding, simply a better and more compassionate use of existing resources. Some recommendations are about stopping existing poor practices and changing conditions within the social security system that can cause harm.

The stories shared with the Committee provide powerful testimony from those trapped in poverty and an imperative for us all to work together to shape a more inclusive and thriving economy and society.

The Committee’s report provides a roadmap to do just that over the coming years. We urge the Albanese Government to advance the priority recommendations in the upcoming Federal Budget as part of their commitment to foster a fairer Australia and leave no one behind.

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