Image: Charlotte Mortlock (@CMMortlock)
Victorian social service agencies are bracing for a spike in requests for help, as temporary measures introduced to support people during COVID-19 are wound back.
The Federal Government is ending the JobKeeper wage replacement scheme and cutting the national unemployment benefit, JobSeeker.
At the same time, a state ban on rental evictions is ending and most rent relief payments will also cease.
VCOSS CEO Emma King said Victoria was heading into choppy, uncharted waters.
“These are big changes, all happening at once and at a time of great uncertainty,” she said.
“Nobody quite knows how this will play out.”
“The one sad certainty is there will be more people out of work, in financial distress and struggling to pay their rent, buy food and afford the basics.”
“This is going to be brutal and bruising for many Victorians.”
“VCOSS members are bracing for a fresh wave of requests for help, after what’s already been an extremely challenging 12 months.”
Ms King said there was some good news in Victoria, with long-planned changes to rental laws also about to take effect, providing some extra protections for tenants.
“These simple yet significant changes are extremely welcome. They will help level the playing field between tenants and landlords.”
Ms King labelled the Federal Government as “heartless and foolish” for cutting JobSeeker.
“JobSeeker is designed to put a floor under people, so they don’t slip into poverty.”
“But the new rate of JobSeeker will push people below the poverty line, driving them into extreme hardship.”
“The Federal Government is essentially telling thousands of Australians that they don’t deserve to eat decent meals or stay warm in winter. That’s just wrong.”
The Federal Government is essentially telling thousands of Australians that they don’t deserve to eat decent meals or stay warm in winter. That’s just wrong.
She is encouraging anybody experiencing distress to ask help.
“Contact your energy retailers, talk to your landlord, reach out to your local community support organisation.”
“There are people and organisations there to help you.”
“Equally, if you know somebody in distress please ask if they’re okay and help refer them to a support service.”
“We need to look out for ourselves and our community,” Ms King said.
- 388,986 Victorians currently receive JobKeeper.
- Nationally, up to 250,000 people are forecast to lose their job when JobKeeper ends.
- 338,725 Victorians already receive JobSeeker/Youth Allowance.
- On April 1, JobSeeker will be cut from $51/day to $44/day (for individuals)