A permanent $25 per week increase to the JobSeeker payment is nowhere near adequate, according to a Brimbank Salvation Army captain.
The JobSeeker payment was increased from $282 to $557 per week during the COVID-19 pandemic, before being gradually decreased.
Currently, people on the JobSeeker payment are receiving an $150 coronavirus supplement but the payment is due to end at the end of this month.
Last week, the federal government announced a $25 per week increase to the JobSeeker payment, taking the payment to $307 per week.
Sunshine Salvation Army captain Colin Reynolds said while any increase was welcomed, it was a long way from what the Salvation Army has been advocating for.
“From a Salvation Army perception, we’ve been advocating to government agencies and relevant stakeholders especially during COVID-19,” he said.
“There should be an increase to the minimum amount of no less than an extra $125 a week.”
Mr Reynolds said the extra money job seekers will receive wouldn’t make much difference, with inflation meaning the price of fresh food has increased.
“It’s not enough to make a significant difference in our view,” he said.
“We feel it’s something, but we’re really disappointed. As far as we’re concerned it’s not going to benefit those who need it.”
Mr Reynolds said that when the JobSeeker payment was increased last year, the Salvation Army saw a number of their regular clients a lot less.
However, some of the clients returned to the Salvos for help once the JobSeeker payment started to decrease, he said.
The Australian Council of Social Service [ACOSS] chief executive Cassandra Goldie said the government’s JobSeeker decision was devastating news for people.
“Today, the government has turned its back on those with the least, plunging people further into poverty,” Dr Goldie said.
“It’s a cruel decision that shows a complete lack of humanity and empathy. It comes as devastating news for so many and will have serious consequences for people’s lives, including homelessness and crushing debt.
“Already, at $51 a day with the temporary coronavirus supplement, people on JobSeeker are currently being forced to make impossible decisions, choosing between housing, food, medications, basic toiletries and paying bills.
“Now… they are expected to struggle on even less – just $44 a day to cover the essentials of life, including rent, as well as the cost of job searching.”