Repairing Australia’s income support safety net benefits us all

When COVID-19 hit Australia, there was quick and effective action to ensure that people in Australia would not only be safe from the virus, but would also be safe from extreme hardship.

The government introduced temporary support for those affected by unemployment by adding the Coronavirus supplement of $500 per fortnight to the JobSeeker payment - formerly known as the Newstart Allowance - effectively doubling the rate of JobSeeker. But this support was temporary, with the Coronavirus Supplement reduced in September by $300 per fortnight and in December by a further $100 per fortnight. The $150 per fortnight rate ended on 31 March 2021. A permanent increase to unemployment payments of just $50 a fortnight was introduced from 1 April 2021. That’s just $25 a week or $3.57 a day.

The rate remains well below the poverty line. It means recipients have to live on just $44* a day – not enough to even cover life’s basics like rent, food and medicine.

While there are some signs of economic recovery, it is unequal and bumpy. And the impacts of the crisis continue to be felt. 

Each one of us, at any time, can find ourselves suddenly without a job. When we fall out of employment, we need a fair and adequate social security safety net to catch us.

We’re calling on the Federal Government to establish an independent body to review the structure and rates of payments and recommend a fair and adequate increase to income support.

Let’s not go backwards. It’s time to #RaisetheRateforGood.

All of us benefit from a fair and adequate social security system

A system that leaves people behind is not only bad for those people, it’s bad for the economy, it’s bad for society - it’s bad for all of us.

Inequality costs . These costs can be widespread and long-lasting, affecting individuals and communities now and in the future. As well as creating greater strain on health, community and education sectors, it means that people have less money to spend in their local communities. With small businesses and industries struggling, adequate income support helps to stimulate local economies.

An effective social security system not only helps individuals going through tough times but, ultimately, helps everyone. We urge the government to invest in a social security system that can meet current and future challenges.

* Jobseeker allowance single adult no child

Having a job no longer means someone is safe from poverty

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