National Cabinet leaves 800,000 in the cold

16 July 2021

National Cabinet today failed to address the gaping hole in the Disaster Payment system that is leaving hundreds of thousands of people on the lowest incomes in lockdown on totally inadequate payments.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“In greater Sydney and across Victoria, around 800,000 people locked down cannot access disaster payments because they receive income support, including people who have lost low paid or casual work. This gaping hole affects people on the lowest incomes in our communities, students, single mothers, parents, older women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with a disability and migrants. Many have children and others in their care.

“People rely on social security to supplement their part-time or casual work and that paid work has disappeared overnight. It is heartless that they are barred from accessing Disaster Payments when their colleagues can.

“We are hearing from people who have lost paid work in the lock down and now can’t make ends meet because they are ineligible for the Disaster payment. These are students, older women, single parents who have been hit hard by this pandemic again and again.

“One in three women receiving social security are also in employment. They were earning barely enough to keep a roof over their head. Now with no paid work, they are facing destitution and many of them care for children and others.

“This is a public health issue – people can’t stay home in lockdown if they lose their home because they cannot afford it.

“JobSeeker is just $315pw, just over half that of the full-time disaster payment that the Federal Government has determined people working more than 20 hours a week need to get through these lockdowns.

People struggling to get by on poverty-level income support need their incomes to be lifted to above the poverty line so they can cover their rent, bills and food, just like everyone else.

“ACOSS calls on the Prime Minister to fix this gaping hole and on Premiers and Chief Ministers to stand up for people on the lowest incomes in their communities hit hardest by these lock downs.”

  • In Victoria there are 418,000 people on income support payments lower than the pension (including JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payments)
  • In Greater Sydney the number is 375,000.