ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Canberra’s job seekers face dismal new year

4 January 2021

Around 28,000 Canberrans are facing a bleak new year following the Federal Government’s cruel cut to the Coronavirus Supplement effective from 1 January.

ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) CEO Dr Emma Campbell said: “While many of us are lucky enough to have a job to return to after the holiday break, there are thousands of Canberrans who are unable to find work and cannot cover basic expenses like food and housing.”

Following the cruel new year cut to JobSeeker, a person who is single with no children now receives just $358 a week (just over $50 a day) while a person with a child will get just $381 a week ($54 a day).

Dr Campbell said: “People receiving JobSeeker come from all walks of life. They have already been devastated by the loss of their job. The callous level of income support will force those looking for work into financial destitution.

“This level of payment places thousands of Canberrans and their families well below the poverty line. As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, this is unacceptable.

“It is also important to remember that most people on temporary visas are denied income support altogether.

“2020 ironically offered a glimpse of a more caring way to support those without work when the Coronavirus supplement helped lift millions of people and their children out of poverty virtually overnight.

“We also know that people on the higher level of JobSeeker were spending their more adequate incomes on the basics, in local shops and business, helping to keep others in jobs.

“ACTCOSS joins the array of business and community leaders and politicians from all sides who have called for a permanent increase in the rate of unemployment benefit. 

“We hope politicians will reconsider the impacts of these decisions on the most vulnerable Australians and implement a permanent rise to these payments,” Dr Campbell concluded.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.