100 signatures reached
To: Australian Federal Government
Contain the virus and support the vulnerable
1. Immediately relax eligibility criteria and pause mutual obligations for Youth Allowance and Newstart. Further, they should relax requirements to increase Postgraduates access to payments.
2. Immediately increase Youth Allowance, Newstart and other related welfare payments by at least $95 per week, and increase Rent Assist.
3. Guarantee and subsidise at least two weeks of paid special leave for all workers who are forced to self-isolate or are impacted by business downturn as a result of quarantining.
And that State and Territory governments: 4. Introduce a moratorium on evictions and utility bills to ensure stable housing and services for those unable to work.
5. Extend the census date for semester 1, and waive HECS fees for students who opt to cancel their enrolment.
6. Commit to an immediate, untied, funding injection to the tertiary education sector.
7. Amend immigration policy to allow international students affected by social distancing or changes to course delivery to shift to part-time study without any risk to their student visa, and make more general accomodations so international students more flexibility to defer and extend their visas.
8. End all sanctions on developing nations, particularly Iran, so they are able to import the medical resources and expertise needed to effectively address this crisis.
9. Give significant aid to developing countries to assist with their efforts to contain and minimise COVID-19’s damage.
10. Institute signifiant physical distancing initiatives, closing as many work and public places as practically possible.
11. Use the extra time achieved by physical distancing strategies to prepare the health system, including by: A) Significantly expanding Intensive Care Unit capacity, B) Significantly increasing our ventilator-to-human ratio, and C) Significantly increasing testing capacity.
12. Undertake urgent reforms to the National Disability Insurance Scheme so that people with disabilities have assurances of care and medical supplies.
Why is this important?
There is nothing normal about the COVID-19 outbreak or the devastating economic impact it will have / is having on the most vulnerable. Some estimate that up to 60% of the population may be affected, and a catastrophic overburdening of the health system seems inevitable. Moreover, countless workers, artists, and students will have to deal with devastating economic conditions on top of these biological worries.
With the Reserve Bank of Australia announcing that it is commencing Quantitative Easing (QE), and the treasury preparing another stimulus package, it is essential that the government embrace policies and programs which will actually address the source of the problem and which will secure a basic standard of living / survival for those who have neither the incomes nor savings to sustain themselves.
By honouring the demands above, and sparing no expense in their pursuit of a best-practice response, the government has a genuine chance at minimising the economic and biological damage of the COVID-19 outbreak. A failure to institute any of the above demands, however, would amount to gross negligence: anything short of a significant economic response, which supports casual wage earners and the vulnerable, will lead to increased transmission rates or, worse, a serious and perhaps fatal deterioration in people's quality of life as they lack the liquidity and income to secure accommodation and acquire essential goods. Moreover, without social distancing and rapid investment in health provisions the number of cases will start increasing exponential. If implemented these demands will not only "flatten the curve", but raise the system's overall capacity, saving many lives. Honouring these demands (among others) will minimise damage to the largest degree, and is ultimately the only way the government can truly protect its citizens. Anything less is negligence.
How it will be delivered
We will email the signatures and work with the National Union of Students to deliver it in person. This will form part of a broader, rapidly developing campaign to pressure the government into announcing a significant and effective stimulus package and health response.