News + Media

Anthem a winner in trying to raise the rate

October 27th, 2021

When musician Aya Yves started researching her entry for the JobSeeker Anthem Song Challenge, one thing struck her – how many media stories talked about government benefits leaving the nation’s most vulnerable behind.

“And I had that song in my mind = “I am, You Are, We Are Australian’’ – and I just thought that leaving these vulnerable people behind wasn’t very Australian,’’ Aya said.

That was the starting point for what turned out to be the winning entry in the $10,000 JobSeeker Anthem Song Challenge, which also provides Aya with two days in the recording studio.

The Sydney-based artist, who released her debut EP earlier this year, co-wrote the song with her regular collaborator Pat Byrne, of Beso Palma. (They’ll share the prizemoney.)

The chorus, Aya explained, came easily and the melody evolved quickly too, as Aya and Pat collaborated over Zoom, bringing the song together more or less in an afternoon. “Pat pulled out some chords, and threw a few melodies out there,’’ Aya said. “But it all came together pretty organically.’’

Aya knows the problems confronting so many vulnerable Australians only too well: she has lived it during the past 18 months, one of many arts workers who has had to rely on government support to get by.

Listen Up Music Co-Founder and CEO Ali Taylor said there were hundreds of entries who had responded to the song challenge that asked Australian musicians to write and record their best anthem that represented those unable to make ends meet on current income support. “There is no correct stereotype of someone experiencing poverty: it can happen to anyone, and these musicians captured all of the nuances of someone trying to survive on $44 a day,’’ Ali said.

The JobSeeker payment is $140 a week below the poverty line for single people. The fastest group of jobseekers are women aged over 45. In addition, there are more than 300,000 Australians who are on JobSeeker who cannot work because of illness or disability.

Competition co-convenors – Wyatt Trust CEO and Philanthropy Australia board member Stacey Thomas and Paul Madden – noted that there are more than a million Australians receiving a JobSeeker payment. “These income payments are well below the poverty line, forcing people into a poverty cycle they often cannot get out of,’’ they said. “We need to raise the rate of income support so basic needs can be met.’’

For Aya, she is cautiously optimistic that her song will help to highlight an issue that needs addressing. “I’m hopeful that this will add some more pressure on the government to do something,’’ she said

You can stream Aya Yves’ song here.

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