$200 payment welcome but abandons those with the very least

28 July 2021

The Australian Council of Social Service has welcomed the new $200 per week disaster payment for people in lockdown on social security payments who have lost at least 8 hours of paid work but expressed alarm that the Federal Government has again abandoned those with the very least – those who had less paid work or none prior to the lockdown.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“Thank you to everyone locked down and locked out of paid work – and our member organisations on the frontline – who have spoken out about why the Government’s lockdown support must include people with the least.

“It’s because of you that today the Government has announced this welcome $200 weekly payment for people in lockdown on social security who have lost 8 or more hours of paid work a week.

“We will continue to urge the Government to extend support to everyone struggling, especially those with the very least, who had less paid work or none, despite trying to find it.

“The lockdown prevents everyone on social security payments from being able to find paid work – they all need this support.

“For all its talk of us all being in this together, the Government is dividing communities by providing financial support to some and leaving others who have the least behind them facing destitution on $44 a day.

“The Government is again abandoning those who need the support the most – people living on JobSeeker at $44 a day who have being trying to find paid work but have not been able to secure it.

“Youth Allowance is even less, at $36 a day. Most people’s rent alone is far more than $36 a day.

“This is a serious public health emergency – you can’t stay at home if you can’t afford to keep a roof over your head.

Dr Goldie highlighted the increased disaster payments for people who are not on social security payments and have lost paid work, saying:

“If it was clear to the Government that people who lose their job could not get by on $600 a week, why are they leaving others to struggle to survive on half that, or less, well below the poverty line? We estimate that just in the Greater Sydney area we are excluding around 350,000 people on the very lowest incomes, most of whom are women, and many with children in their care.

“JobSeeker and Youth Allowance are less than half the amount of the increased higher disaster payment and everyone on these social security payments is prevented from finding paid work due to the lockdown, Dr Goldie said.