Pitiful JobSeeker increase insufficient to help jobless, surge in food insecurity expected

NEWS RELEASE | For Immediate Release

A permanent $50 a fortnight increase to the JobSeeker wage is insufficient to help people who are looking for work and is unlikely to prevent an expected surge in demand for the church’s emergency food services when COVID-19 supplements are axed on 31 March.

The Moderator of the Uniting Church (NSW & ACT), the Rev. Simon Hansford, said demand for food support at church locations across the state has closely mirrored the increase and then reductions in COVID-19 supplements to the jobless.

“The initial $500 a fortnight COVID-19 supplement made a real difference in people’s lives, allowing them to pay for medicines and fresh food for the first time in many years, it allowed them to get back on their feet,” Rev Hansford said.

“People who had previously relied on food support just to survive, stopped coming to our centres as the full supplement meant they could finally support themselves. But we have since seen a winding back of these supplementary payments and with that there has been an increase again for our services.”

Rev. Hansford said an increase of $25 a week was patently insignificant to make an impact in the lives of people who did not have a job. “Applying for jobs requires more than significant courage and self-belief. Candidates need decent, clean clothes, perhaps a haircut and a recent meal. All of this costs money.”

He said “It is not often we are in harmony with the Business Council of Australia, The Reserve Bank and ACOSS but we are about the need for a significant permanent rise in JobSeeker. This minimal increase represents a lost opportunity to make the nation’s welfare safety net about justice for those most in need. It must seek to provide dignity to those who have been profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of whom were already struggling before COVID-19 struck.

“The reality is that people who may not have interacted with us or the welfare system before the pandemic will really struggle as the previous support payments are wound back. We are expecting a surge in demand for food and other emergency services as families fail to make ends meet,” Rev. Hansford said.

To increase the visibility of its services to help those in need to find food support, the Uniting Church NSW.ACT has published this directory:  https://findafeed.uca.org.au/.

For more information, please contact:   

Martin Thomas, martinth@nswact.uca.org.au, 0477 340 704 

Ashley Donnelly, ashleyd@nswact.uca.org.au, 0400 509 068

or media@nswact.uca.org.au