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Survey shows that employment system is failing – and that JobSeeker is too low

Dec 7, 2020, 22:04 PM by Maiy Azize

The old rate of JobSeeker was leaving people with as little as $7 a day after paying rent, according to a new survey from Anglicare Australia.

The national survey of people getting Centrelink payments ran from July to November. It found:

  • JobSeeker increases halved the percentage of people living on $7 a day, and left people with more income across the board
  • This will help people eat properly. Before the jobseeker increase, three quarters of people (72 percent) skipped meals every week. Most skipped an average of 3-4 meals a week.
  • Few people believe that Centrelink obligations are helping them find paid work (13 percent)
  • An overwhelming number of people feel their Centrelink activities are pointless (79 percent)
  • Most people (74 percent) said they would be willing to do Centrelink activities that are fair. Even more (75 percent) want to do activities that lead to work.

The findings come as parliament prepares to debate cuts to the JobSeeker payment. Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said we need to stop the cuts and overhaul the system.

“This survey tells us two things. First, we need to stop the cuts and raise the rate of JobSeeker for good.

“It should be a scandal that so many people were forced to skip meals so often. Some people we surveyed were couch surfing and skipping meals every day. With so little money, they simply had no choice.

“The Government must raise the rate for good to stop condemning these Australians – and their children – to a life of poverty.

“It also tells us that we need to overhaul the system. We have a system that forces people to run a gauntlet of interviews, reporting, and administration that isn’t leading to work.

“Lynchpins of the system, like Work for the Dole and Jobactive, have repeatedly been shown to fail – and they waste millions of dollars a year. This survey shows that people on the coalface know it.

“Yet most people in our survey actually want to do activities that matter, and that lead them into work. Instead they are being forced into pointless busywork.

“We need to overhaul this system once and for all. It’s time to stop punishing people for being out of work, and start giving them the support they need,” Ms Chambers said.