As the federal election looms, social welfare advocates have listed their key priorities for combatting "out of control" living costs and supporting vulnerable Tasmanians to live with dignity.
Launceston Benevolent Society chief executive Rodney Spinks said payments needed to be above the poverty line, which according to Antipoverty Week, is $65 per day.
TasCOSS chief executive Adrienne Picone echoed the sentiment, calling for JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other income support payments to be boosted to at least $70 a day.
Disability advocate Jane Wardlaw wanted the threshold for allowable work hours expanded for welfare recipients, allowing people to earn up to $500 a week before being asset-tested.
Ms Wardlaw also said the Disability Support Pension criteria needed to be eased to make it more accessible to people with disability.
"Poverty has a very negative impact on the health and well-being of all people. Poverty disenfranchises people. It exacerbates uncertainty, mistrust and puts people at significant risk of trauma leaving them with poorer health outcomes. Instead, we need to invest into people so that we can flourish and create a narrative of hope and certainty for a better future." she said.
With rent increases of about $50 per week in Launceston in 2021, at the same time vacancies remained low, housing stress has become acute in Tasmania.
Ms Picone called for a 50 per cent increase to the Commonwealth Rent Assistance payment, and for greater incentives for investors to bring more private housing stock onto the long-term rental market.
Ms Wardlaw said she wanted the phaseout of the National Rental Affordability Scheme to be stopped, calling it "bad policy".
"More investment into the NRAS would provide low-income people with certainty," she said.
City Mission chief executive Stephen Brown said when people spent 70 per cent or more of their income on rent, everything else became a cost of living issue.
"Not having stable accommodation has an impact on people's physical, mental and emotional health, but also impacts work options, schooling and access to health services," he said.
Strike it Out chief executive Kirsten Ritchie said there needed more emergency accommodation needed to be made available, with services "bursting at the seams".
Ms Ritchie said with shelters full, more people were "sleeping rough", and moving people on from their campsites was futile when there was nowhere else to go.
Mr Spinks said social housing needed to be increased alongside crisis accommodation. With people waiting years to get in a home, he said we were falling behind demand.
"We've got lots of people waiting for public housing and they're being forced into homelessness and living in their cars and in tents," he said.
Mr Brown said many Tasmanians could not find bulk-billing medical services, resulting in people foregoing GP appointments because they could not afford the out-of-pocket costs.
"Anecdotally, we believe this is higher for people with failing mental health. Even with a mental health plan that enables subsidised treatment, the waiting lists for access to specialist services are lengthy and assuming people can afford the costs, people still often re-prioritise due to the range of other issues they are trying to manage," he said.
Ms Wardlow said health services were becoming "out of reach" to those who needed it most, including low-income and disabled people.
She said bulk-billing must include dental services.
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