Matthew Maher is not yet on Newstart, but says the rate needs to be lifted as even on Youth Allowance - which is lower - he's 'living on nothing'.
Matthew Maher is not yet on Newstart, but says the rate needs to be lifted as even on Youth Allowance - which is lower - he's 'living on nothing'. Troy Jegers

Gympie has its say on welfare: 'I'm living on nothing'

IS IT time to bump Newstart payments up?

The prevailing wind among online readers and people on Gympie's streets is "yes” ahead of a Senate committee's examination into the payment's adequacy, starting this week.

And the prevailing theme in the community is the rate is unliveable.

Shantelle Watson said on Facebook the it was a big problem when her husband lost his job.

"Some weeks we had to choose between paying rent or eating. Finding a job can be stressful enough as is, and that stress shouldn't be added to wondering how one can pay rent and feed themselves,” she said.

Newstart Allowance Gympie Centrelink - Matthew Maher
Matthew Maher. Troy Jegers

Any rise would be good news to Matthew Maher.

The 18-year-old and father of a newborn is not on Newstart yet, but his Youth Allowance payments are not a far cry.

Each member of a couple with children on Youth Allowance can get $499.90 a fortnight.

Singles who live away from the home can receive up to $455.20 a fortnight.


Partners on Newstart can claim $504.70 fortnightly each - singles with a dependent child are eligible for $604.70.

Mr Maher said the payment may cover rent, but it falls short of ongoing costs like food and fuel.

Job hunting
Job hunting. Keagan Elder

"You can't have a life with it.”

And his inability to move off welfare was not for a lack of trying.

His job hunt has taken him as far and wide as Noosa and across the Gympie region - with no luck.

"I'm consistently looking for work.

"The amount of work out there for someone like me is nothing.

"Either you need specific qualifications, or you really need to go to specific places.”

He said employers will consider the resume, "but you don't have much chance”.

"I'm living off nothing at the moment.”

Aged Pension recipients are in the firing line again, this time from Centrelink's data matching scheme.

Online, Trina Barnes agreed "some people have no other choice but to live on Centrelink payments for prolonged periods of time.

"Look at the amount of viable jobs in this town compared to the people on Newstart looking for work,” she said.

The consensus was not overwhelming, though.

"No (it should not be raised). I'm a farmer and I don't get paid fortnightly... they should be out picking up rubbish or volunteering, I know some do but a hell of a lot don,” Kim Sorensen said.

And Darron Walker said "I'm working and I haven't had a pay rise in 2 years so who do I go whingeing and crying to”.