JobSeeker increase needed as Queenslanders reach breaking point
The 2032 Olympics will show to the world a Queensland rife with poverty and homeless if the Federal Budget does not adequately address JobSeeker, according to Vinnies Queensland.
CEO Kevin Mercer said the number of requests for help received by the charity in 2023 is already up by 20 per cent from 2022, and the amount of support required to help people survive has nearly doubled.
“All across Queensland, the story is the same – if you’re on JobSeeker, there are no places left for you to live.” Mr Mercer said.
Mr Mercer said he was not surprised to hear more than 99 per cent of all private rentals in Brisbane were now unaffordable for individuals and families on income support, according to a recent report from Anglicare.
“Our rates of homelessness are increasing at a rate three times faster than the rest of Australia and we’ve seen a significant increase in people reaching out for help that have never had to ask before,” he said.
“It’s been a perfect storm of increasing rent prices, unavailability of social and affordable housing and skyrocketing general cost of living increases.
Mr Mercer referred to a recent QCOSS report that found that Queensland would need to construct 11,000 affordable and socials homes each year to meet current and future demand.
“In addition to the Housing Australia Future Fund, Queensland would benefit greatly from extra Federal funding for housing supply,” he said.
“Otherwise, who knows how many people will be on the streets by the time the Olympics comes to Australia?”
The situation is just as dire in regional Queensland – Townsville resident Luke knew things had gotten bad when even the local homelessness shelters had run out of room.
“Every private rental I went to had 40+ people applying for the same house,” he said.
“I didn’t have full-time work at the time, so I just wasn’t even getting a look in.
“I found myself with just a sleeping bag, sleeping by the river as I waited for a space in the hostels to become available.
“I knew there was nothing for me left in the private rental market.”
Mr Mercer said the charity stood behind calls from ACOSS to increase JobSeeker to $76 a day for everyone – not just those over 55.
“Rarely a day goes past where we don’t hear from families with young children sleeping in their tents or cars to survive – Australia can and must do better,” he said.
Mr Mercer the charity called on the Federal Government to:
- Increase JobSeeker to $76 a day for all
- Increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 50 per cent to keep it in line with modern rent costs
- Expand funding for the Housing Australia Future Fund to deliver more affordable homes
- Assist Queensland with funding to help build 11,000 social and affordable homes a year
- Renew or replace the National Rental Affordability Scheme which is due to end in 2025