About 200,000 Victorians will be plunged into poverty, as they’re shunted from the Federal Government’s COVID Disaster Payment to the grossly inadequate JobSeeker scheme.
COVID-specific payments are ending in Victoria today with the state having reached its 80% vaccination target.
“The Federal Government is washing its hands of these people,” VCOSS CEO Emma King said.
“The jobs market hasn’t yet bounced back. On average, there are about six unemployed or underemployed people applying for every job vacancy in Australia.”
“Knowingly pushing 200,000 Victorians into poverty is a terrible start to our post-COVID recovery.”
Ms King said while the COVID Disaster Payment was being withdrawal early, it was designed as temporary payment.
“The real scandal here is the ludicrously low rate of JobSeeker,” she said.
“JobSeeker is set below the poverty line. $45 a day is simply not enough to buy fresh food or pay the rent.”
“JobSeeker is meant to be a safety net that protects people from poverty. Instead, it’s a net that traps people in poverty,” Ms King said.
The Federal Government was lauded by economists, mental health experts and social welfare advocates for bolstering the rate of JobSeeker during the height of the pandemic.
VCOSS is calling on the Federal Government and Labor Opposition to pledge to permanently raise the rate of JobSeeker ahead of next year’s federal election.
“Helping people out of poverty should be an issue we can all agree on. It should be above politics,” Ms King said.
“If the Commonwealth fails to boost JobSeeker to a suitable level, it will once again fall to other tiers of government and under-funded frontline social service bodies to pick up the pieces.”
In the media
Future is pretty bleak’: Unemployment up as COVID-19 payments end
The Age, 11 November 2021
COVID payments to end in Victoria
Mornings with Rafael Epstein (ABC Radio Melbourne), 18 November 2021