Sydney, Nov 4: People in several Sydney suburbs woke up today to the cessation of COVID Disaster Payments, leaving many to survive on $45 a day JobSeeker (formerly known as Newstart) payment.
The Australian Federal Government is ceasing disaster payments only two weeks after New South Wales reaches the 80 per cent vaccination target.
Around 135,000 people in the City of Sydney, Randwick, Woollahra, Bayside, the Inner West, Canada Bay and Waverley received disaster payments since the lockdowns began in June on top of the current social security benefits also known to many as the dole.
Hundreds of thousands more stand to lose these payments from tomorrow in the rest of Sydney and NSW, as well as the ACT. Victorians will lose these payments from November 19.
“It is premature to remove disaster payments, especially given how weak income support is, ” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
“JobSeeker and other income support need to be lifted so that people can cover the basics, whether they lost their job because of Covid or not.”
“JobSeeker needs to be at least $67 per day and rent assistance and family payments also need to be fixed.
“Instead, the government has kept unemployment payments at $45 a day, and ruled out further disaster support should there be further lockdowns after states reach 80 per cent vaccination targets,” he said.
“More than two million people received disaster payments across NSW, the ACT and Victoria.
“We fear that once these payments end, many will be left struggling on inadequate unemployment payments, unable to cover the cost of essentials like housing and food as they try to find paid work.
“And while states are reopening, many industries will not bounce back quickly, like parts of the tourism, entertainment and hospitality sectors, leaving people struggling to get their jobs back.
“We urge the Parliament to increase JobSeeker and related payments to at least $67 a day, lift Rent Assistance by 50 per cent, and fix family payments so that everyone including children have enough money to eat three meals a day and keep a roof over their head.
“Experience from other countries shows that some form of lockdown may well be required even with high vaccination rates.
“If we are to protect people from falling into poverty, fixing our social safety net must be the Parliament’s top priority,” she said.
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