Settlement Services International (SSI) has described the federal government’s decision to increase JobSeeker by only $50 a fortnight as a missed opportunity to lift people out of poverty and “build back better”.
About 1.3 million unemployed Australians on the JobSeeker payment will receive an extra $3.57 a day, or $50 a fortnight, after the $150 coronavirus supplement ends on March 31.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said, “This increase leaves JobSeeker well below the poverty line and below the coronavirus supplement, which has helped over one million people meet their debts and maintain their dignity.
“The old rate of JobSeeker left recipients with as little as $7 per day after paying rent. Even with the coronavirus supplement many families were skipping meals, facing homelessness, and unable to pay essential bills.”
She said, “A cornerstone of SSI’s advocacy since early 2020 has been to look at COVID-19 as a reset button for our society. Not only has the pandemic highlighted hidden and visible inequalities, it has also provided us with the opportunity to change the structures that create them and build back better in our recovery.
“Such a small increase in the base rate of JobSeeker – well below the level suggested by business groups, social services organisations and economists – is a missed opportunity to lift thousands of people above mere survival levels.
“I understand the government’s budgetary concerns but $3.50 a day won’t meaningfully help Australians who will remain vulnerable to severe financial distress.”