Basic income: An idea whose time has come

ProBono Australia

Anglicare Australia has seen first-hand the impact poverty has on people’s lives. Our broken safety net and workforce changes are pushing more people into poverty every year. And every year, more of these Australians are turning to charities like ours just to get by. 

We have also seen how a secure income can change lives for the better. Last year, the JobSeeker payment was doubled in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Obligations for those getting the payment were lifted. The JobKeeper wage subsidy was brought in to help workers, especially casuals, stay afloat if work dried up. This support gave many Australians access to a form of basic income for the first time. 

Immediately, hundreds of thousands of people were lifted out of poverty. People’s health and wellbeing improved, and many could finally save for the future. 

The changes were only temporary. But they confirmed what many of us have always known – poverty is not inevitable. It is a policy choice. Simply paying liveable income to so many people, including those who were out of work or employed casually, all but ended the problem of poverty in Australia. Why, when an income above the poverty line brought so many benefits to so many people, shouldn’t Australia have a permanent basic income? 

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