Uniting Vic.Tas CEO, Bronwyn Pike said the federal government’s decision to cut the JobSeeker payment and end the coronavirus supplement by the end of the year will force millions of Australians – including at least 1 million children – below the poverty line.
Ms Pike, who is also Victorian Co-Chair of Anti-Poverty Week, said the government had missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help raise the standard of living for some of the most disadvantaged people.
“This crisis isn’t over. The full coronavirus supplement should be maintained until it could be replaced with a permanent, adequate payment,” she said.
“The decision to cut the supplement back to $250 a fortnight (from $550 a fortnight) from 25 September until 31 December means the JobSeeker payment could be back to disastrously low levels as early as January.
“It is also punitive to reimpose mutual obligation requirements to continue receiving the benefit at a time when there are so many people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. There are currently 13 jobseekers for every single job vacancy in Australia.
“JobSeeker was finally providing people with a basic standard of living, many for the first time. It is cruel to cut this payment when people need a sense of security and certainty during one of the most difficult and challenging times of our lives.
“We should never return to the pre-COVID JobSeeker rate of $40 a day. We have to support our most vulnerable, to give them hope, to give them opportunity and to give them dignity.”
Uniting Vic.Tas as a member of the Raise The Rate for Good campaign has been calling for an increase to JobSeeker that is commensurate with the current payment.