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DSS introduces Newstart Allowance

DSS used a colourful poster to introduce Newstart Allowance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Here’s important news for people on unemployment benefits. It’s not just news for men, it’s for women too.

Chris Kelly and Green Ant for DSS, 1991
Attachment Size
important-news.pdf 958.78 KB
Attachment Size
important-news-poster-plaintext.docx 70.99 KB
About the artefact

In 1991, the Department of Social Security (DSS) introduced Newstart Allowance to replace Unemployment Benefit. The government brought in Newstart Allowance soon after updating the Social Security Act.  

DSS used this poster Important news!! to inform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the change.  

Characters on the poster explained that information about the change from Unemployment Benefit to Newstart was ‘not just news for men, it’s for women too’. This reflected broader changes around which people were applying for and getting this payment.  

The poster also reflects the government’s focus on training and employment programs that were part of Newstart Allowance. 

DSS worked with Chris Kelly from Green Ant Research Arts and Publishing in Darwin to create the poster. They had worked with Green Ant on the ‘Right story, right money’ campaign designs the previous year. 

Lots of the materials Green Ant produced were political, so it’s unusual that DSS chose them to create this poster.

DSS had begun using bold graphic styles to communicate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more often. Later research confirmed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers often preferred these types of designs.  

Source details

Green Ant producer Chips Mackinolty gifted the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) a large collection in 1993, including this poster.

The NGA holds an original Important news!! poster in their collection, which you can view online. 


Permissions to reproduce this poster were granted by Chris Kelly and the NGA.


Kelly C (1991) Important news!! [offset lithographic poster], Green Ant Research Arts and Publishing, Darwin, for Department of Social Security.

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