SALISBURY

A ‘slap in the face’ by council

Anti-poverty group’s request to speak rejected

A MISSED opportunity for Salisbury Council to speak up for its almost 6500 unemployed residents is a “slap in the face” for local people, a poverty-advocacy group leader says.

Community group Anti-Poverty Network SA has twice in the past six months been refused requests to address Salisbury Council meetings about benefits payments, with the latest refusal coming this week. Neighbouring council Port Adelaide Enfield and three other country councils have welcomed the network’s presentation.

The group is lobbying councils across the state to put pressure on the Federal Government to lift the Newstart allowance by up to $50 from $267 a week for a single adult and $290 for a parent. The payments are currently more than $100 below the poverty line of $426 per week.

Anti-Poverty Network SA co-ordinator Pas Forgione said the decision was not good for local residents.

“To say to unemployed residents who are struggling to find work in a very tough labour market that they won’t support this is a slap in the face and leaves a bitter taste in their mouths,” he said.

“It doesn’t take any resources or funding, it is just them sticking their neck out and having some courage.”

A Salisbury Council spokesman said the opportunity for the group to speak was refused as the issue “falls outside of council’s jurisdiction”.

But Mr Forgione rejected that reasoning.

“It is not that hard for the council to speak up for its unemployed residents like it does for a whole lot of other issues.”

Aidan Jarvis, who has been on Newstart for almost five years, was frustrated by the council’s decision.

“I moved out in 2015 with a friend, but I probably shouldn’t of because now I don’t really have anywhere to go as my dad lives in Cairns and mum died a couple months after I left,” Mr Jarvis, 23, of Salisbury, said.

“There are plenty of people who are struggling and can’t find work, but Salisbury won’t even give us the opportunity to speak.

“The council doesn’t want to stir the pot.”

It doesn’t take any resources or funding, it is just them sticking their neck out and having some courage.
Pas Forgione