ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Thousands of Canberrans face hardships as JobSeeker supplement reduced

21 July 2020

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today expressed dismay at the decision to reduce the JobSeeker supplement leaving thousands of Canberrans facing reductions in income.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell, said: "Since the end of last year, the number of people on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance has more than doubled in the ACT. From 25 September 2020, a person on JobSeeker will lose $300 per fortnight and face the prospect of a further cut just after Christmas.

"The higher rate of JobSeeker and Youth Allowance has allowed thousands of Canberrans who have lost their job to pay heating bills, put fresh fruit and vegetables on the table and buy warm clothes for their kids.

"This reduction will leave thousands of people struggling to meet basic costs including rent and medical bills.

"Based on data available for the ACT in May 2020, there was only one job vacancy for every four people looking for work. Nationally, that figure is one job for every 13 people looking for work. We need payments to be enough for people to cover the basics so they can rebuild their lives.

"There is a broad support across business, unions and the community for a permanent increase to income support. The full supplement must be maintained until it is replaced with a permanent, adequate increase.

"The reduction to JobSeeker by $300 a fortnight will also have a flow-on effect for the Canberra and wider national economy. Millions of people across Australia will have less to spend on essentials in local businesses.

"Too many Canberrans are one phone call away from unemployment, and people need financial security and certainty at this anxious time. Today’s announcement gives them neither.

"From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ACOSS have also raised concerns about the impact of unemployment on temporary visa holders who do not have access to income support, many who have been left with no income at all. This announcement also does nothing to support them."

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.