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Mark Gaetani (Vinnies Tasmania)

The incoming St Vincent de Paul Society national president has called on the Albanese Government to immediately increase social security payments and address the crisis in affordable housing.

Mark Gaetani, who will take up the role of national president on Sunday, told the Senate Inquiry into the Extent and Nature of Poverty in Australia that the society was witnessing unprecedented demand for support as more Australians struggle to survive the cost-of-living crisis.

“We are seeing a huge spike in demand for support across the country — more than 20 per cent in New South Wales, for example — from Australians slipping further into disadvantage,” Mr Gaetani said.

“The society believes that a fair Australia is one in which everyone can live with dignity.

“Income support payments were designed to provide a safety net to allow Australians to live with dignity and to contribute to their families and the community … Today, JobSeeker and other payments are brutally low and trap recipients in cycles of ever-increasing poverty and despair.” 

Mr Gaetani called on the Government to immediately increase JobSeeker and other income support payments as an emergency measure to lift recipients out of poverty.

“No one deserves to live in poverty,” Mr Gaetani said.

“Yet in Australia today more than three million people are living below the poverty line, including one in six children, which has catastrophic impacts on their health, education and life paths.

“‘The Government must take immediate action to help vulnerable Australians survive the cost-of-living crisis by increasing JobSeeker and related payments to allow vulnerable Australians to live with dignity and to participate in their communities.”

The society’s full submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Extent and Nature of Poverty in Australia is available here.


Inquiry into the extent and nature of poverty in Australia (St Vincent de Paul Society)