Jobseeker bump does not save Aussies from poverty
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
The Federal Government's modest recent increase to the JobSeeker payment does not begin to address the disadvantage that exists across Australia, and is a sorely missed opportunity to keep Queensland's most vulnerable residents over the poverty line.
The increase of $50 per fortnight equates to just $3.57 per day, meaning individuals on JobSeeker will still be forced to choose between paying their rent or putting food on the table. Many families have already been treading water for months, with the soon-to-expire Coronavirus Supplement the only mechanism keeping them afloat due to job losses and an increasing cost of living.
During the initial launch of the $550 Coronavirus Supplement to fortnightly JobSeeker payments, we saw a noticeable decrease in the number of people turning to Vinnies Queensland for support compared to the previous year, even in the middle of a global pandemic. People found a level of comfort and stability in their everyday lives.
With the JobSeeker rate to reduce to just $44 a day from March 31 and pandemic supplements ending, more than 315,000 Queenslanders relying on this support will be at a $125 shortfall compared to the relative poverty line of $433 per week as determined by ACOSS in 2018 - leaving these people struggling to keep their heads above water financially.
With only one job available for every nine Queenslanders looking, rising private rental costs and an unprecedented competitive housing market, the impending reduced support is generating a perfect storm for our state's most vulnerable.
But It doesn't have to be this way. Vinnies Queensland remains committed in our support of the Australian Council of Social Service's call for a permanent increase of $25 a day to the JobSeeker payment.
This small increase should be viewed as a start, and the conversation must continue.
Vinnies has supported struggling Queenslanders for more than 125 years and one thing has remained consistent that entire time - when the most vulnerable among us receive the support they need, the entire community benefits.
CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland