25 May 2020
The Australian Council of Social Service is calling on the Prime Minister to commit in his National Press Club address tomorrow to ensuring nobody is left behind in the COVID-19 recovery, including by:
• Immediately extending JobKeeper, JobSeeker and Medicare to temporary migrants
• Continuing the new JobSeeker payment of $560 per week until a social security system is put in place that keeps everyone out of poverty.
ACOSS Acting CEO Jacqueline Phillips said:
“We are all in this together, but some people are being left to face severe economic hardship without any support. The Government must urgently extend JobKeeper and JobSeeker to temporary migrants, including international students and asylum seekers, who are being left to face destitution, without even access to Medicare. Everyone deserves to be able to put food on the table and a roof over their head.
“As well as taking immediate action for temporary migrants, the Government must commit to extending the JobKeeper and the new JobSeeker payments beyond September. Instead of the original plan to cut income support by half in September, taking us back to the old unlivable Newstart rate, the Government should permanently put in place a social security system that keeps everyone out of poverty.
“Through the new JobSeeker payment and the JobKeeper wage subsidy, the Government has saved jobs and kept many people out of poverty. The sudden removal of JobKeeper Payment across the board, or cutting the new JobSeeker Payment back to the old Newstart level, would lead to a devastating increase in unemployment and financial hardship.
“When changes to the JobKeeper Payment are eventually made, many people will need help to navigate a jobs market that’s rapidly adjusting from the ‘stay at home economy’. Retrenched workers, school-leavers and the half a million people who were already on JobSeeker Payment for more than a year when the virus struck, will need timely, good quality careers advice and training. They must be matched with job vacancies as they arise, so that they don’t get left behind.
“ACOSS is calling for a ‘partnership for jobs’ between government, business, unions, employment and training providers and community organisations to identify where jobs are available in each region, the skills employers need, and to match them up with people seeking employment so that we get unemployment back below double digits as quickly as possible.
“We can create tens of thousands of jobs and reduce homelessness through a national social housing construction program, which has the support of the CFMEU, Master Builders Australia and community housing and homelessness organisations. We can create further jobs through an energy efficiency program for low-income households, which would cut energy bills and reduce climate emissions.”