ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: A heartless betrayal - Federal Government JobSeeker decision

23 February 2021

The ACT Council of Social Service said that today’s Federal Government JobSeeker decision is devastating news for the many Canberrans receiving income support. The announcement – a measly $3.57 a day above the brutal old Newstart rate – will plunge thousands of Canberrans deeper into poverty as they struggle to cover the basics including food, rent and medical care.

Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO said: “This cruel and devastating decision will impact thousands of Canberrans receiving income support while looking for work.

“As at January 2021, there were 12,292 Canberrans receiving income support while looking for work. This is almost double the figure of 12 months ago.

“It is a heartless betrayal of people with the least – children, women, single parents, people with disability, older Canberrans, students and others relying on income support.  Already, at $51 a day with the temporary Coronavirus Supplement, people on JobSeeker are being forced to choose between housing, food, medications, basic toiletries and paying bills.

“Now, at the end of next month, they will be expected to struggle on even less – just $44 a day to cover the essentials of life, including rent, as well as the cost of job searching. At $312 per week, this new level of JobSeeker is $145 below the poverty line. 

“We already have one of the strictest systems of income support compliance among comparable countries. Harsher mutual obligation requirements will just make life even tougher for people looking for work without improving their job prospects.

“We are calling for an increase of least $25 a day on top of the brutal old Newstart rate of just $40 a day, which would bring the JobSeeker rate to $65 a day.

“ACTCOSS will continue to work with ACOSS and those surviving on JobSeeker to fight for what we know is just and humane.

“We call on all sides of ACT politics to publicly condemn this heartless decision and to call on the Federal Government to adequately increase the rate of JobSeeker and Youth Allowance,” said Dr Campbell.

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