Published
11 September 2020

How everyday Australians can take action to stop cuts to JobSeeker

With 15 days until the Federal Government is planning to slash the JobSeeker supplement by $300 a fortnight, social justice agency the Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) is calling on the more than 1.4 million JobSeeker recipients to tell their stories, as well as asking all Australians to show their support for a fair and just social security system.

The increased social security payment – effectively doubled with the introduction of the Coronavirus supplement – has changed lives, and those are the stories BSL is asking people to share. Like Jane, who said she broke down in tears when she heard she would be receiving $550 more each fortnight.

“[This is] the only good thing to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says. “I was so relieved. The increased payment makes things like my medication and psychology appointments more affordable.”

When the supplement is slashed on 25 September, over a million unemployed Australians and over a million children will be plunged into poverty. There’s also no certainty of the rate beyond the end of the year. So BSL is calling on people around the country to urgently demonstrate to their communities and the government the widespread pain that will be felt if the cuts go ahead.

BSL Executive Director, Conny Lenneberg, says the government should be applauded for the Coronavirus supplement. “It was an act of great leadership amid this crisis and it meant a world of difference to people already struggling,” she says. “We have heard from families that have finally been able to visit the dentist, provide healthy family meals, or buy a jumper to keep warm during the winter.”

But Ms Lenneberg is deeply concerned that levels of hunger and homelessness across Australia will spike if the government goes ahead with the cuts. “At a time when 1 in 10 people of working age is getting by on the JobSeeker payment, it is crucial we secure a permanent and adequate increase to income support. The base rate of Jobseeker is widely acknowledged as being so low that it acts as a barrier to seeking work, and with over a million people unemployed, there’s fierce competition for available jobs. Falling out of work shouldn’t mean falling into poverty.”

BSL is also calling on all Australians – whether they receive JobSeeker or not – to join the call for a social security system that is good for people, good for the economy and good for society. People can share their stories or just write about why they support a fair social security system on bsl.org.au/raisetherate/ or by emailing jobseekerstory@bsl.org.au , and on social media using #RaiseTheRateForGood, #JustFutures and tagging @Brotherhoodinfo .

“It’s easy to forget that behind all these numbers are people who are trying to get by,” says Ms Lenneberg. “And without a fair and adequate social security system, this country will be leaving them all behind.”

For more information, visit bsl.org.au/raisetherate/ . Executive Director, Conny Lenneberg, and people who have shared their stories are available for comment.

For all media enquiries: Bridie Riordan, bridie.riordan@bsl.org.au , M: 0491 159 256

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