The Guardian • Issue #2057

Existing on $13 a day

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2057

“Demand a Living Wage For All” rally – Melbourne, March 2021. Photo: – (CC BY 2.0)

Young renters on youth allowance sharing a typical two bedroom flat have only $13 a day to cover food, transport, medicine, utilities, and other costs, according to an alarming new analysis by Homelessness Australia.

To coincide with Youth Homelessness Matters Day, the peak body conducted a two-year longitudinal analysis, cross-referencing the cost of 50 per cent rent of a two-bedroom apartment against the maximum income support payment available to a young person living away from home.

While overall income support payments increased 10 per cent in two years (due to CPI indexing), rents surged 24 per cent. A young person who paid 64 per cent of their income two years ago to share a two-bedroom unit will now have to pay 73 per cent of their income.

“After paying rent a young person on income support in Australia has only $13 a day to cover food, transport, medicine, power, and other costs. Unless there’s some magic pudding we’re not aware of, this is a ridiculous expectation,” said Kate Colvin, CEO of Homelessness Australia.

“The reality is landlords will not rent to a young person whose budget is stretched this thinly, making it almost impossible for young people who can’t live safely at home to find somewhere to live.

“We urgently need to lift Youth Allowance and Commonwealth Rent Assistance so young people have the income they need to avoid homelessness. By failing to act, we are condemning growing numbers of young people to homelessness and poverty. It’s impossible to develop skills and experience or attain an education when you’re hungry or unsure of where you will sleep.”

The latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that each year 39,300 children and young people aged 15-24 come to homelessness services alone. Many cannot be safely reunited with family and need long-term housing and support.

“It is harder and harder for homelessness services to find young people a rental home and when they do, the rent is eye-wateringly expensive,” said Colvin. “If we want to give the next generation a genuine shot in life, the least we can do is give them the income they need to survive.”

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