Statement on the cessation of pandemic leave and free RATs

The Government’s decision to retain the former government’s budget cut to free RATs for concession card holders on 31 July is at odds with Prime Minister Albanese’s election night promise to ‘leave no one behind.’

People on low incomes are already going to extreme measures to make ends meet, pay rising energy bills, and keep a roof over their head amid an exceptionally cold winter.

As Australia faces another COVID wave, ACOSS urges this Government to support people on the lowest incomes who are most exposed to the effects of the pandemic. This includes ensuring everyone can access RATs and can support themselves if they need to isolate. We know that people on the lowest incomes cannot afford RATs or grocery delivery because their incomes barely cover their rent.

It is the same people, who, without leave entitlements, will struggle to afford to isolate with the ending of the Pandemic Leave and Crisis Payments for people with covid.

Continuing to provide free RATs for concession card holders is sensible policy to support people struggling to get by on low incomes. Income support must also be sufficient and available to people in need so that they can isolate if they have covid.