The Parliamentary Budget Office’s (PBO) report on the Jobseeker payment is yet another indictment on the Government failing to ensure that everyone gets through this pandemic together.
Our income support system has been used ideologically to stigmatise and shame people accessing the social safety net.
Pre-covid it was not fit for purpose and this pandemic has shown how a system that has been constantly targeted to make savings has impacted older women, young people, single parents and disabled people.
The Government says that this is a targeted system but they are lumping people with different needs, experiences and abilities in one category, giving them a payment below the poverty line and saying “job done”.
We are looking at a crisis of older women retiring into poverty.
The PBO report notes that there has been an increase in people, especially women, who have been on the payment for more than one year and that because the increase in long-term recipients and older recipients is likely to continue irrespective of short-term fluctuations in unemployment and the increase in pension age to 67 the JobSeeker payment is acting as a pre‑age-pension payment for some older Australians in the labour market.
Before this crisis hit almost half of people on Newstart had an illness or disability. These are people that should be properly supported or on DSP not threatened with having a payment taken away because they are too sick to look for jobs.
The JobSeeker payment generally represents a relatively small proportion of total social security and income support spending (approximately 6 per cent over the past decade), and yet people on Jobseeker are routinely and systematically demonised by this Government.
This Government needs to recognise the needs of everyone in our community whether its young people trying to get in the workforce, age discrimination in the workforce and ensuring that disabled or sick people are properly looked after and receive adequate income support.
Nobody in a country as wealthy as Australia should have to worry about living below the poverty line if they are unable to work.
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie; 0418 401 180