ACOSS calls on Federal Government to deliver on pandemic disaster recovery payments as part of a plan to protect incomes

2 June 2021

ACOSS is calling for the Federal Government to bring a plan to protect jobs and incomes in lockdowns to this week’s National Cabinet meeting. It should include disaster recovery payments like those paid to people affected by bushfires, targeted reintroduction of JobKeeper payments, and lifting JobSeeker to above poverty levels.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“Just as the Federal Government provides disaster recovery payments to people who have been the victims of bushfire or flood, it should provide pandemic recovery income support, including a pandemic disaster-recovery payment, for people who have lost paid work.

“There’s no question that lock downs, while necessary to protect health, have been disasters for people who’ve lost paid work. This plan would ensure payments are fast-tracked to people who need them.

“At this week’s National Cabinet meeting, the Federal Government and states should put together a jobs and income support plan to deal with sudden lockdowns.

“The plan should bring together a one-off Pandemic Disaster Recovery Payment, a lifting of JobSeeker to above the poverty line (at least $65 per day) and a reinstated JobKeeper Payment during extended lockdowns to ensure decent, timely income support for all who need it,” Dr Goldie said.

ACOSS Senior Advisor, Social Security, Charmaine Crowe said:

“We know that many people already have massive accumulated debts, housing and rent prices are going up, and charities are unable to cope with dramatic increases in demand.”

We need a comprehensive plan to protect jobs and incomes:

1. Immediate pandemic disaster recovery payments to people in regions and industries affected by lockdowns who have lost paid work.

The one-off Disaster Recovery Payment is $1,000 per adult and $400 per child. ACOSS is calling for these payments to be increased to $3,000 and $1,000 respectively. They would be paid to people who have lost income due to lockdowns, in affected industries and regions specified by agreement between the Australian and relevant State or Territory governments.

2. A decent income support safety net

JobSeeker must be increased above poverty levels – to at least $65 a day so that people have a decent income support safety net until they’re able to find another job. Ongoing Disaster Recovery Allowances would be paid at the same rate to people not eligible for JobSeeker and other income support payments (for example, due to their partner’s income), for the duration of the lockdown.

3. Reinstate JobKeeper Payment to help people keep their jobs during extended lockdowns.

We have consistently argued that JobKeeper payments be retained to assist people employed in industries and regions that are still adversely affected by lockdowns or border closures, at rates of $750pw for fulltime employees and $375pw for part-time employees. As with the disaster relief payments, JobKeeper would be paid to people in affected industries and regions specified by agreement between the Australian and relevant State or Territory governments.

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