Push for higher JobSeeker rates

By Jessica Micallef

Health service Cobaw Community Health is calling for the JobSeeker rate to be higher.

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments will be continuing from the end of the September until March 29 next year, but at reduced rates.

JobKeeper will be reduced from $1500 a fortnight to $1200 for full-time workers and $750 for part-time employees who work 20 hours or less a week.

In December, the JobKeeper rate will drop again to $1000 for full-time workers and $650 for part-time employees.

For those on JobSeeker, the rate will be reduced from $1100 a fortnight, to about $800 a fortnight, and the coronavirus supplement will drop from $550 to $250 for the last quarter.

Cobaw Community Health chief executive Margaret McDonald said less housing clients have needed emergency relief because of the extra coronavirus supplement as part of JobSeeker.

“The need for an increase in the JobSeeker rate is critical to give people the opportunity for them to lead a dignified life and meet the fundamental requirements of housing, food, medicines and utilities,” she said.

“This not possible on the old rate.

“We predict there will be a massive influx of help requests come September.”

Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters said there were 10,279 people currently relying on JobSeeker payments in the Bendigo electorate, which covers parts of the Macedon Ranges including Woodend and Kyneton.

Ms Chesters fears the drop in the JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments would make it harder for individuals to afford the essentials.

“I have met with a number of locals in the hospitality and tourism industry who have told me that we are from from the recovery stages of this pandemic,” she said.

“With capacity limits in place and Melbourne lockdown continuing, our restaurants, bars and cafes are still relying on support packages to stay afloat.

“Over the past few months, I have heard a number of stories from organisations and individuals about how the boost in the JobSeeker rate is allowing people to get out of poverty and live with dignity.”