If you are having trouble viewing this enewsletter, please view online

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

April 2019

As the nation faces an election, the Brotherhood of St Laurence continues to work for an Australia free of poverty.

This issue of Brotherhood Update highlights research about poverty and social security, as well as data about social exclusion and contrasting attitudes to dementia. Policy concerns include the inadequacy of the Newstart Allowance for jobseekers, the impact of the ParentsNext program and fairer electricity prices.

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

RESEARCH Monitoring social exclusion in Australia

Outer suburban housing

More than a million Australians experience the multiple overlapping problems that amount to deep social exclusion, according to the latest analysis for the Social Exclusion Monitor.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with chronic ill-health or disability, those aged over 65 years, and lone parents are among the most excluded groups.

View the graphs and data on the Social Exclusion Monitor website

The monitor, developed by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, uses data from the annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey of more than 13,000 people.

The Social Exclusion Monitor is cited in Gay Alcorn's recent article in The Guardian, Poverty as a moral question: do we have the collective will to end it?

POLICY Reclaiming a fairer society

At the time of the federal Budget, Brotherhood Executive Director Conny Lenneberg drew attention to the inadequacy of the Newstart Allowance for jobseekers in a nation that claims to be recognised as the place of a fair go.

Read the statement Beyond rhetoric, urgent need to reclaim fair-go society

BOOK LAUNCH A fair go, 50 years after the Henderson Poverty Review

Conny Lenneberg at book launch

The notion of the ‘fair go’ was explored in a lively panel discussion featuring Gay Alcorn, Melbourne editor, Guardian Australia; the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Prof. Shelley Mallett; the Melbourne Institute's Prof. Roger Wilkinson; and Prof. Peter Saunders from UNSW.

Watch the discussion 

They spoke at the launch of Revisiting Henderson: poverty, social security and basic income.

Find out more about the book Revisiting Henderson published by Melbourne University Press.

RESEARCH Fresh perspectives on dementia

Two women in a park

The views of people living with dementia about the condition and priorities for action differ from the prevailing public health literature. Rather than having to deal with stigma, people with dementia want to live normally in their neighbourhoods and communities; and this has important implications for awareness-raising. These are among the findings from a research project led by the Brotherhood’s Professor Simon Biggs and funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council via the Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre.

Read the report by Simon Biggs, Irja Haapala and Ashley Carr, Dementia in the public domain: voice and age-based perspectives on dementia, social disadvantage and public health campaigning (PDF, 4.8 MB)

and the shorter guide

Dementia in the public domain: a guide to voice, age and public campaigning (PDF, 2.5 MB)

MEDIA How well does ParentsNext support parents?

Woman walking through a park

In advance of the Senate inquiry report on the ParentsNext program that aims to help some parents on welfare payments get ready for the workforce, Shelley Mallett was part of a discussion on ABC Radio program Life Matters.

Download the podcast (mp3 file, 19 MB)

See also the Brotherhood’s submission to the Inquiry into ParentsNext (PDF, 552 KB)

POLICY A fairer electricity price for many Victorian households

Row of three piggy banks

The Victorian Default Offer will introduce a fair price for electricity, to be set by the independent regulator, the Essential Services Commission. The Brotherhood’s latest submission supports the offer, and argues for measures that will make it easily available to all households, including those whose discount offers have expired.

Read our Submission to the Essential Service Commission regarding Victorian Default Offer draft advice (PDF, 44 KB)

Read our media release New fair price for electricity to save Victorians hundreds of dollars a year


The Brotherhood is also running Your Energy Broker, a free independent service funded by the Victorian Government to help eligible households review their energy bills and switch to better, cheaper deals.

Find out more about Your Energy Broker