Image: Charlotte Mortlock (@CMMortlock)

Did we just end poverty, and then let it return? Cost of Living

Did we just end poverty, and then let it return?


Social policy during the coronavirus recession: a fairytale with an unhappy ending?  tells a story of Melbourne during the pandemic you might not have heard.

It’s about how various government measures announced in response to COVID temporarily ended pre-pandemic poverty for a some groups, in particular some JobSeeker recipients.

In mid-2020, those measures helped propel people above the poverty line and facilitated Victoria’s introduction of tough public health measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The report questions why the Federal Government isn’t capitalising on this success, embracing policies that would keep people out of poverty in the long-term.

Lead researcher Dr David Hayward (RMIT University):

This research tells the story of one Australia’s most extraordinary social policy successes, and how we’re about to let it all slip away.

The Federal Government made a lot of big and tough decisions during the pandemic, and managed to free thousands of Australians from pre-existing poverty.

The Victorian Government worked with them in lockstep to fill the gaps left to be filled, helping people experiencing homelessness and a variety of other highly marginalised groups.

The report warns we’re poised not to capitalise on this good work, but instead to let people slip back below the poverty line.

VCOSS CEO Emma King:

For a brief moment, and for a lucky few, we eradicated poverty.

For those magic months, people previously doing it tough could buy healthy food and pay their bills without stress.

In non-COVID times, these settings would have also allowed people to look for work without worrying about their next meal.

It proves ending poverty isn’t a pipe dream. It’s achievable.

It’s absolutely heart-breaking the Federal Government is planning to plunge thousands of Victorian back below the poverty line.

The JobSeeker Rollercoaster

Changes to JobSeeker pushed people above the poverty line, while cuts are now driving them back into poverty.


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