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684,360 left behind: shameful proposal to restrict JobSeeker increase to over 55s
Welfare recipients urge government not to introduce more age discrimination in response to reports of JobSeeker increase for over 55s
The Antipoverty Centre is disturbed by reports that the Albanese government may restrict a potential JobSeeker increase to people aged over 55 years.
This is a perverse proposal cooked up by self-interested politicians seeking only to neutralise a political catastrophe of their own making.
We reiterate our call for the government to increase all Centrelink payments to at least the Henderson poverty line and ensure that no person is living in poverty.
We must end age discrimination in welfare policy.
Already, 200,000 people on Youth Allowance are forced to survive in even deeper poverty than those on JobSeeker, receiving only $281 a week to live on.1 684,360 people who rely on an unemployment payment are under 55.2 479,815 people on an unemployment payment have relied on it for more than two years.3
It is unacceptable that the government is considering making this situation worse, rather than fixing it.
Rent is not cheaper for people under 55. Groceries are not cheaper for people under 55. Electricity, phone bill, fuel, clothes – none of the essentials cost us less based on age.
But rather than caring for everyone who needs support, politicians have cynically calculated that helping those over 55 will win them more votes. They have cynically calculated it will give them the space to do nothing for the 684,360 people on unemployment payments living on roughly half the poverty line. Or the millions who rely on other working age payments.
Poll after poll shows support for ensuring that everyone has enough to live by providing a significant increase in welfare payments.4 As the government digs in on its irresponsible decisions to spend obscene sums on warmongering and welfare for the wealthy delivered via tax cuts, the community is in uproar that they insist on sacrificing people in poverty as nothing more than a “tough choice”.
There are not deserving and undeserving welfare recipients.
A liveable welfare payment is an investment in our society.
Ensuring that no person lives in poverty should be the government’s first and highest priority. And there is a simple solution: lift all Centrelink payments above the Henderson poverty line and make sure every person who needs income support can get it.
We know it’s possible because Scott Morrison did it overnight. Even he wasn’t cruel enough to divide us further.
Media contact: 0413 261 362 / media at antipovertycentre.org
Crisis support and counselling services
If you need support you can seek guidance, counselling or crisis help from the below organisations or talk to someone you trust.
Suicide Call Back Service – general: 1300 659 467
SANE Australia – general: 1800 187 263
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National Counselling and Referral Service – for disabled people: 1800 421 468
Headspace – for young people: 1800 650 890
QLife – fo LGBTQIA+ people: 1800 184 527
Full Stop – for people who have experienced sexual harassment and assault: 1800 385 578
Embrace Mental Health – multilingual service: embracementalhealth.org.au
MensLine – for men: 1300 789 978
Brother to Brother – for First Nations men: 1800 435 799
https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/how-much-youth-allowance-for-job-seekers-you-can-get?context=43921 and https://data.gov.au/dataset/ds-dga-cff2ae8a-55e4-47db-a66d-e177fe0ac6a0/details
A November 2021 Ipsos poll found 65–74% support for JobSeeker payments to be above the poverty line in Liberal-held marginal electorates. Between 49% and 60% of voters in the five seats said they would consider changing their vote to a party that would lift the rate above $69 a day. An August 2019 Essential poll found 84% believed no one in Australia should go without essentials like food, healthcare and power. Only 30% believed it would be better to spend money on services instead of increasing unemployment payments. An Ipsos poll released in August 2021 found 77% of people supported a liveable income guarantee above the poverty line. A May 2022 Ipsos poll found 68% of poll respondents said they would support raising JobSeeker to above $70 per day.