Young people in Australia are struggling to afford basic necessities such as rent, food, bills and medicine, and often having to choose between them, according to a new report from the community sector.

The National Youth Commission Australia (NYCA) Youth Income Guarantee Paper proposes an overhaul of the current income support system for young people through Federal Government implementation of nine recommendations, including instituting a Youth Income Guarantee as a single income support model for young people.

The report argues that 85 percent of the minimum cost for healthy living of an unemployed adult should be the base amount young people receive on income support. Healthy living is measured by pricing items needed for a minimum standard of healthy living for different family structures where the primary income earner was either unemployed or in low-income work and indexing this in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and wage increases. Using this method, the NYCA estimates the base rate for income support for young people to be $820 per fortnight for the away-from-home rate, and $450 per fortnight for the at-home rate of payment plus additional incentive payments for participation in education, training, and job search activities.

The paper is the culmination of two years research and engagement with more than 1200 experts, organisations and young people around Australia, and is one of a series of policy papers to be released by the NYCA that propose models for how young people could be better prepared and supported in their transition from school to work. It is part of a suite of strategies that combined to create a national strategy for young people – the Youth Futures Guarantee – and a stronger future for Australia.

The NYCA believed this proposal would create a pathway to ensure young people are better prepared for employment, encourage greater use of incentives for work or study, reduce youth poverty, reduce youth homelessness and lower debt amongst young people.

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