The ACOSS Cost of Living report interviewed jobseekers and revealed the harsh reality of how difficult it is to live off the payment as the cost of living continues to rise.
The report found that those on Jobseeker payments were struggling to pay rent, with 96 per cent spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, meaning they were in housing stress.
“My landlord now wants an increase in rent from $175 to $300 a week, which means I will go without food,” one Jobseeker recipient said.
“At 57, I am not as young as I used to be and cannot do some of the activities that previously earned me extra income such as sport umpiring and labouring.
“During the height of the pandemic, I used up all my capital, super and sold several assets. Now the cost of living is getting so high it is impossible to survive without charity assistance.”
Several survey respondents identified that they were victims of the Lismore floods or Black Summer bushfires and had lost their homes.
The report also found that increased grocery prices were forcing people on income support to compromise their nutrition.
“Before the increase in grocery prices, I was already skipping meals and eating only one meal a day,” another Jobseeker recipient said,
“Now I can barely afford to buy 500 grams of mince, two loaves of bread and if I am very lucky might be able to buy some jam to put on it.
“I still am skipping meals and it is certainly not doing my health any good”.
What can be done to solve the problem?
The ACOSS report made a number of recommendations including lifting welfare payments.
To ensure people can cover basic costs, the Federal Government must lift income support payments to at least $73 a day, including JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy, Abstudy, Special Benefit and Parenting Payment,” the report said.
“The Federal Government must deliver an increase in the October budget to address the severe crisis facing people on these income support payments.”
In addition, the report said the Government needs to index income support to wages as well and the Consumer Price Index (inflation).
This would ensure payment maintained pace with community living standards over the long term.
The report called for an increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 50 per cent and to establish a disability and illness supplement of at least $50 a week.
It also called for a single parent supplement that recognises the additional costs of single parenthood.