The $100 a fortnight cut to the JobSeeker payment will force more people into poverty and place even greater pressure on emergency relief services, according to Uniting Vic.Tas CEO Bronwyn Pike.
Ms Pike said the organisation is bracing itself for an expected surge in demand for food and housing support in the coming weeks and months.
“During 2020, we found demand at our emergency relief centres doubled from March to October as more people found themselves out of work – some for the first time in their lives,” Ms Pike said.
“The initial $500 a fortnight COVID-19 supplement made a real difference to people’s living standards. For the first time in years, people on unemployment benefits could afford to buy fresh food, medicine, and clothes.
“Even when the supplement was reduced to $150 a fortnight, it was enough to provide many people with some certainty and some relief from having to constantly struggle to afford the basics.”
Ms Pike said replacing the COVID-19 supplement and increasing the JobSeeker payment by just $50 a fortnight would not be enough to save many families from crisis and having to ask for help.
“One million children in Australia have a parent who will be affected by this cut. What sort of future are we offering them, when their parents, often single mothers, are struggling to provide even the basics?
“With the end of this supplement, people will fall deeper into poverty and many will struggle to escape. Families are already under enormous stress whether it’s paying the rent or bills or just really struggling with their own mental health.
“The Jobseeker payment is not a handout, it’s about giving people a basic standard of living while they get back on their feet. Nobody should have to make a choice between paying the electricity bill and buying necessities like food or medicine.”