A heartless betrayal of millions – Government JobSeeker decision

23 February 2021

The Australian Council of Social Service says the Government’s JobSeeker decision today comes as devastating news for people, it is a cut to their current income and is a measly $3.57 a day more than the brutal old Newstart rate.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“This is a heartless betrayal of millions of people with the least, including hundreds of thousands of children, single parents, people with disability, older people, students, people dealing with illness and injury, and others relying on income support.

“Today, the Government has turned its back on those with the least, plunging people further into poverty. It’s a cruel decision that shows a complete lack of humanity and empathy. It comes as devastating news for so many and will have serious consequences for people’s lives, including homelessness and crushing debt.

“I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the courageous people on JobSeeker who have bravely shared their stories. Across the community sector, we are determined to continue working with people on JobSeeker, standing with them to continue to strongly advocate for what we know is right.

“Already, at $51 a day with the temporary Coronavirus Supplement, people on JobSeeker are currently being forced to make impossible decisions, choosing between housing, food, medications, basic toiletries and paying bills.

“Now, come the end of next month, they are expected to struggle on even less – just $44 a day to cover the essentials of life, including rent, as well as the cost of job searching.

“There is only one job available for every nine people looking and at $44 a day the Government’s announcement today is well under half the minimum wage.

“We already have one of the strictest systems of income support compliance among comparable countries. Harsher mutual obligation requirements will just make life even tougher for millions of people without improving their job prospects.

“If the government was serious about doing everything it can to get people into paid work, it would back the recommendations of its own expert panel on employment services. It would start with its first recommendation, which is to build trust. It would implement an individually tailored approach based on a person’s circumstances of what is needed to give the person their best chance of getting a job.

“While welcome, the relaxed income test will do nothing for the vast majority of people on JobSeeker who are locked out of paid work, unable to find even part-time or casual employment.

“Today we acknowledge the determination of so many people on JobSeeker who have bravely shared their stories, as well as the tireless efforts of so many across the community sector and the broad support from the business community, union movement, economists and community leaders.

“We will continue to work together to tell the truth of what is happening in millions of people’s lives and fight for what we know is fundamentally right,” Dr Goldie said.

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