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.

The pre-pandemic rate was set below the poverty line. It meant recipients had to live on just $40* a day – not enough to even cover life’s basics like rent, food and medicine.

67% of recipients of JobSeeker at this pre-pandemic rate were living in poverty.

That figure now sits at just 7%, thanks to the increased coronavirus supplement which has provided life-changing relief for so many.

The government’s increase to JobSeeker effectively acknowledged that the underlying rate was woefully inadequate.

But on 25 September, the Coronavirus supplement is being slashed by $300 a fortnight, with no certainty of the rate beyond the end of the year.

In the middle of an economic crisis, we can’t pull this support out from under so many people, and we can’t let the Jobseeker payment revert to below the poverty line.

Without job security and adequate social security, thousands of Australians will be plunged even further into poverty.

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 maintain the Coronavirus Supplement at the current rate and ensure a permanent increase to the JobSeeker payment.

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

1.4 million people rely on JobSeeker support

There have never been so many people in Australia out of work.

In June 2020 , over one million people were looking for work.

And for the first time ever, almost 1.7 million people were claiming Jobseeker or Youth Allowance - because they didn’t have a job or couldn’t get enough hours to make a living.

By 2021, it's expected this will rise to 2 million people.

The current crisis is a stark reminder that unemployment and underemployment can happen to any of us at any time.

A recent report by ANU’s Centre for Social Research found that without the Coronavirus supplement , a whopping 15 per cent of people in Australia would now be living in poverty. Instead, the number of people in poverty has actually gone down from pre-pandemic rates by around 32 per cent.

The extra income of JobSeeker has helped people live with dignity . For single mums and people who were long-term unemployed, the increased payment rate meant not having to worry about every cent or where the next meal was coming from. For the first time, many families we work with have finally been able to visit the dentist, fix the car, and turn the heating on during the winter.

If the proposed cut to the JobSeeker payment is made, thousands more people will be plunged into poverty.

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.

* Jobseeker allowance single adult no child

Let’s Raise the Rate for Good

1 million Australians are waking up without work. Any one of us could be next.