Vinnies Queensland warns JobSeeker rate change not enough for the state’s most vulnerable
A JobSeeker increase of just $25 a week is a sorely missed opportunity to keep Queensland’s most vulnerable residents over the poverty line.
Vinnies Queensland Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mercer said the initial launch of a $550 Coronavirus Supplement to fortnightly JobSeeker payments in 2020 saw a noticeable decrease in the number of people turning to the organisation for support compared to the previous year, even in the middle of a global pandemic.
But with the JobSeeker rate to reduce to just $44 a day from March 31, Mr Mercer said a growing number of Queenslanders will find themselves struggling to keep their heads above water financially.
“When the rate increase was first announced, we found people were suddenly able to become more self-sufficient, pay their bills and find some level of comfort and stability in their everyday lives,” Mr Mercer said.
“Before this increase, we would regularly get calls from people on Newstart who had to choose between paying their rent or feeding their family that week.
“A rate increase of just $3.50 a day will not be enough to prevent Queenslanders from once again being forced to make these types of decisions – decisions no one should ever have to face.
“With unemployment rates in Queensland currently the highest in the country, there are even fewer opportunities to obtain financial security, especially in regional areas.”
The new permanent JobSeeker rate of $307 a week as of 31 March, 2021 was announced today.
Vinnies Queensland had previously supported the Australian Council of Social Service’s (ACOSS) call for a permanent increase of $25 a day.
“Our organisation has supported struggling Queenslanders for more than 125 years and one thing has remained consistent that entire time – when the most vulnerable among us receive the support they need, the entire community benefits,” Mr Mercer said.
Vinnies Queensland, along with Vinnies Housing and Ozcare, has provided $258 million in services and support throughout the state during the last financial year.
Queenslanders in need of assistance are encouraged to contact the Vinnies Helpline on 1800 846 643.