"It's not that they aren't having a go - it's more that the odds are stacked against them."

Labor leader takes aim at jobs catchphrase

ANTHONY Albanese has rubbished the coalition refrain that the best form of welfare is a job, saying that's not always true.

The opposition leader has told a welfare sector conference that while Australia is a great nation, it can't be said to be perfect when so many people are living in poverty.

Social mobility is getting harder and entrenched inter-generational poverty is a real challenge, he said.

"Poverty holds our nation back. It creates stress, anxiety and hopelessness," Mr Albanese told the Australian Council of Social Service gathering in Canberra on Wednesday.

"We are all diminished when kids in Australia are turning up at school hungry, or not turning up at all because they hate feeling like they're different. It's untapped potential."

He noted that other similar countries such as New Zealand and Canada had legislated plans to reduce poverty but no such blueprint existed in Australia.

And he took aim at the catchphrase "the best form of welfare is a job".

"In some areas of Australia, like Queensland's outback, unemployment sits at 12 per cent," Mr Albanese said.

"Many Australians try their hardest to get a job, but can't because they're perceived as too old or they've taken a break from working to care for family and then don't have the right experience or there just aren't any opportunities where they live.

"It's not that they aren't having a go - it's more that the odds are stacked against them."

The opposition is rethinking the suite of policies it took to the May federal election, but it has strengthened its stance on unemployment payments.

It will continue to call for an increase to the $40-a-day Newstart payment - something also backed by the welfare sector, the Reserve Bank and big business.