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Newstart limitations resulting in lack of access to essential healthcare

Australians living on Newstart are being “economically blocked” from accessing essential healthcare and are suffering from deteriorating levels of wellbeing, argues one not-for-profit.

According to cohealth, a Victorian-based NFP community health organisation, many Australians who are forced to live below the poverty line on the Newstart Allowance are going without essential healthcare because they can’t afford it.

cohealth CEO Nicole Bartholomeusz said that this is the “true pain” of Newstart: that recipients’ health levels will deteriorate as a result of being “economically blocked” from essential healthcare services.

“We hear from people in the community whose health is deteriorating because they are unable to afford the cost of essential medications and health treatments,” she said.

“It’s reprehensible that people are being forced to delay seeking treatment, they’re being forced to live in constant pain and the stress of their ill health.

“On top of this, the stress of living below the poverty line and stigma attached to unemployment is a tipping point for people developing mental health conditions, and it exacerbates existing conditions.”

In addition to being a barrier to receiving care, Ms Bartholomeusz continued, many cohealth clients said that being on Newstart actually contributed to their ill health.

“Newstart has stagnated for 25 years without any increase in real terms. We are urging an immediate increase to the Newstart Allowance of no less than $75 per week, in line with calls from a wide cross-section of community services, business groups, unions and civil society,” she said.

“This will not only provide economic relief for the many Australians locked out of paid work, it will deliver significant benefits to their physical and mental wellbeing and prevent much more costly treatment down the line.”

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