The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is Australia s leading welfare advocacy group. During 2011?13, ACOSS coordinated a high-profile campaign to lift the rate of the Newstart allowance for the unemployed. The campaign used a number of advocacy strategies such as policy reports, petitions, media releases, support from other key interest groups and consultations with parliamentarians, but was unsuccessful in persuading the Labor government to amend the payment rate. This article argues that the campaign was always going to struggle to succeed given the Australian welfare state s historical preference for labour market engagement over broader social rights. Other barriers included the budget deficit, the increasing influence of social-investment philosophy which prioritises active rather than passive social protection, the general international trend towards payment conditionality and the challenge of advocating policy change against combined opposition from the two major political parties.