This week, Professor Kay Cook and Associate Professor Ben Phillips talk about reimagining what we value and how we value it when it comes to poverty and social policy in Australia.

Both Professor Cook and Associate Professor Phillips are on the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee and advocate strongly for raising the rate of support payments in Australia, to bring people out of poverty.

Phillips takes us through the immediate steps and payments that would make a difference to poverty in Australia, and how to raise the revenue to make it happen. He says by lifting JobSeeker to be lifted to 90% of the aged care pension would bring around one million people above the poverty line. For the millions of people still below the poverty line, it alleviates the depth of poverty they suffer. Cook reminds us that people who are receiving JobSeeker payments are being forced to choose between food and medicine, and in colder climates, also warmth.

Cook puts in perspective through her own research, how having limited government support can also leave struggling parents reliant on child support from the other parent, making them vulnerable to financial abuse. Abusive former partners can exploit loopholes in a flawed system further impacting the lives of children. She says this would have less of an impact if people were able to receive benefits that did not force them into poverty.

Both agree the Measuring What Matters Framework is a good start, but acknowledged that there are flaws. Cook says what matters to whom is something that needs to be discussed. Phillips raises the issue that the lack of data means we may not be able to measure what we value as a society.

Professor Kay Cook is Associate Dean of Research School of Social Sciences, Media, Film and Education at Swinburne University of Technology, and a former Australian Research Council Future Fellow. Her research has focused on a range of social policy issues, including welfare-to-work, child support and child care policies. She is also a member of the federal government’s interim Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee.

Associate Professor Ben Phillips is a Principal Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Research and Methods at ANU. He has more than 20 years of experience as an economic and social researcher in Australia, and has worked on issues from housing affordability and financial stress to reform of the tax and welfare systems. He is also a member of the federal government’s interim Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee.

Sharon Bessell is a Professor of Public Policy and Director of both the Children’s Policy Centre and the Poverty and Inequality Research Centre at ANU Crawford School of Public Policy.

Arnagretta Hunter is the Human Futures Fellow at ANU College of Health and Medicine, a cardiologist, physician, and a Senior Clinical Lecturer at ANU Medical School.

You can find full show notes on the Crawford School of Public Policy LinkedIn account.

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