More than 4.7 million Australians will receive a boost to support payments from Monday, as part of the federal government’s twice-yearly indexation of payments.
The government says it is supporting vulnerable Australians “feeling the pinch”, but a leading welfare organisation is adamant routine indexation is simply not enough when JobSeeker payments still remain well below the poverty line amid a cost-of-living crisis.
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Australians receiving JobSeeker will have their payments rise by 24.70 a fortnight — $1.77 a day — bringing the fortnightly payment to $701.90 for singles aged over 22 with no children.
Single age and disability pension recipients and carers will receive an increase of $37.50 a fortnight, and couples a combined $56.40.
Assistance payments will increase by $5.60 a fortnight for singles without children, $6.58 for maximum rate recipients with one or two children and $7.42 for those with three or more children.
Single parents on the parenting payment will receive a bump of $33.90 a fortnight, increasing the payment to $967.90.
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Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said the government was supporting Australians in need who were “feeling the pinch”.
“Indexation is a pillar of our social security system and we want more money in the pockets of everyday Australians so they can better afford essentials,” she said earlier.
“The increase is an important part of the system and helps those doing it toughest.”
However, the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) is calling on the government to do more to help the millions of Australians living in poverty.
More action needed
ACOSS says it wants a “real” increase to income support payments, explaining that indexation in line with the Consumer Price Index does not address the needs of those on income support.
In its budget submissions to the federal government this week, the organisation called for unemployment payments to be raised to at least $76, up from the current $48.
ACOSS head Cassandra Goldie said it was a disgrace that despite Australia being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, unemployment payments were still the lowest among comparative OECD countries.
“With more than three million people in poverty in Australia, this budget must deliver cost of living relief for those who need it most and help shape a more inclusive society,” she said on Thursday.
Goldie said many Australians were already going without to make ends meet amid rising cost of living pressures.
“This is not about the cost of a cup of coffee, this is about the essentials of life,” she said.
ACOSS regularly hears of people on JobSeeker and related payments going without food and essential medication or healthcare even before the cost-of-living crisis gripping Australia.
The JobSeeker increase breaks down to just $1.77 a day — making the payment 57 per cent below the minimum wage and 34 per cent below the pension.
Even with the increase, recipients will still be living well below the poverty line, ACOSS says.
Goldie said it was the right time for the government to step in and fix the adequacy of key social protections.
“The government has the tools to build a more equal Australia,” she said.
– With AAP