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Brotherhood of St Laurence - Working for an Australia free of poverty Brotherhood Update - Research and policy update from the Brotherhood of St Laurence

October 2020

The crisis triggered by COVID-19 has severely tested the effectiveness of our social security system. This issue of our Brotherhood Update features research that points to limitations of the present system and the need for strong, ongoing protections to prevent people falling into – or remaining trapped in  – poverty.

it also includes a recent webinar on creating real employment opportunities for young people after COVID-19 and an upcoming one on families under stress.

Please share our Brotherhood Update with your colleagues and encourage them to subscribe.

REPORT Supporting single mothers to build economic security

Indoor trampoline viewed through a net

Low-income single mothers continue to be trapped in poverty and uncertainty, with limited opportunities. Our study shows that reform is required in multiple domains – not only in family-friendly employment and flexible, affordable quality child care, but also in taxation, social security and child support policy.

Read the report by Dina Bowman & Seuwandi Wickramasinghe, Trampolines not traps: enabling economic security for single mothers and their children (738 KB)

WORKING PAPER How Australia’s social security system developed

Leatherbound volumes on library shelves

Tracing the history of Australia’s social security system helps us to consider what reforms are needed for the present day. Our researchers explored how the system has developed over more than 100 years since Federation, and why it is no longer suitable for our changing world.

Read the paper by Danielle Thornton, Dina Bowman and Shelley Mallett, Safety net to poverty trap? The twentieth-century origins of Australia’s uneven social security system (PDF, 638 KB)

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Reclaiming social security for a just future: a principled approach to reform by Dina Bowman, Danielle Thornton, and Shelley Mallett

POLICY Budgeting for social cohesion

Two Interlocking hands composed of tiny human figures

Our pre-Budget submission to the federal Assistant Treasurer  focused on social security reform. We believe that social security is a key investment in social cohesion and economic recovery and that adequate reliable income is the base for wellbeing.

Read the Joint pre-Budget submission (PDF, 282 KB) by the Brotherhood of St. Laurence; Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare; the Council of Single Mothers and their Children; and Grandparents Victoria / Grandparents Australia

ARTICLE Strengthening financial capabilities by working together

Jam jar with coins

Low-income households in Australia face increased risks as the social security net frays, the labour market changes, incomes become more volatile and daily life becomes ‘financialised’.

Cases from a BSL study illustrate how these influences can limit financial capabilities. The authors argue that collective capabilities (based on the work of Sen and Nussbaum) can challenge structural conditions, and expand or protect the capabilities of individuals.

Read the article by Jeremiah Thomas Brown, Marcus Banks and Dina Bowman, 'From me to us: strengthening our financial capabilities' in Economic Papers: A Journal of Applied Economics and Policy. 

CAMPAIGNRepairing Australia’s income support safety net

High-rise public housing close-up

With more than 1.6 million people relying on unemployment payments, we’re calling on the Australian Government to maintain the Coronavirus Supplement at the current rate and ensure a permanent increase to the JobSeeker Payment.

Read more about our campaign and add your support

WEBINARWEBINAR COVID-19 and young people’s transition to work

Young disk jockey at microphone in studio

How will the COVID-19 crisis impact young people’s transition from education to employment? What policymakers can do to create genuine opportunities and prevent the scarring effects of unemployment?

An expert panel explored these questions in a webinar hosted by the University of Melbourne in partnership with the Brotherhood of St. Laurence for Social Sciences Week 2020.

Watch the webinar Looking to the future: creating meaningful employment for young people after COVID-19