Historic JobKeeper scheme delivers huge relief to millions at risk of losing paid work

ACOSS welcomes the passing of the historic JobKeeper payment through Parliament overnight, which follows the long-overdue increase to Newstart (JobSeeker) and Youth Allowance.

“The JobKeeper payment is crucial action taken by Government that will help provide job and income security for millions of paid workers across the country at this extremely difficult time,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.

“The six-month JobKeeper payment, as well as the six-month increase to JobSeeker and Youth Allowance, shields the nation, at least for a time, from what would have otherwise been a drastic surge in our already unacceptable poverty and unemployment rates. We congratulate the extraordinary efforts of many, the Government, the Parliament, the union movement, business and community organisations, and people across the country.

“Securing these protections, JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments, would not have happened without the tireless efforts of people from communities all over Australia, paid workers, and people already without paid work, people on Newstart and Youth Allowance who have long been speaking out about the utter inadequacy of our social protection systems.

“We particularly thank everyone who has spoken up publicly about just how impossible it has been trying to get by on $40 a day – those who have lived the brutality of life on social security before these historic changes. They demonstrated that the existing social safety net was beyond broken.

“Now more than ever, people across the community and our leaders are seeing why it is so important that we have strong social and economic protections and why we can never go back relying on just $40 a day for people who lose their jobs.

“Clearly, however, there are still far too many people who are being left behind, and ACOSS commits today to continue to fight to deliver protections for all.

“We will continue to urge Government to expand income support, JobKeeper Payment and Medicare to those who still do not have access to any kind of income support, including asylum seekers, international students and temporary migrants. We also need to make sure that there is adequate support for people with disability, carers and First Nations communities, as well as ensuring everybody has safe, secure housing.

“For the community and charitable sector, we strongly welcome the progress to date with the lowering of the turnover threshold from 30 to 15%. There is no question this will help more community organisations to survive, and more community workers to keep their jobs helping others.

“However, again, too many vital community and charitable organisations are not yet covered, and thousands of vital jobs remain at risk.  It is crucial that the turnover test ensures eligibility for the Jobkeeper scheme by distinguishing between tied and untied grants. This is the only way that turnover can be fairly assessed for charities.

“Community service charities are vital at all times, but especially in a crisis. We need now a comprehensive Community Service Rescue Package so that the community sector can continue and expand services, including by retaining workers and increasing staffing, in order to meet the rising demand resulting from this health and economic crisis,” Dr Goldie said.

For more information about ACOSS’ advocacy on COVID-19 response, please see our letter to the Prime Minister: