SA Council of Social Service hopeful of parliamentary inquiry to lift JobSeeker allowance

LACKING: The new JobSeeker payment is expected to impact the state's regional economy and people.. Photo: Shutterstock
LACKING: The new JobSeeker payment is expected to impact the state's regional economy and people.. Photo: Shutterstock

Inadequacy raised over the new national JobSeeker payment has a South Australian advocacy body hopeful of a parliamentary inquiry will ensue to support the state's regional economy and its people.

Last week the federal government announced that fortnightly JobSeeker payments will be lifted to just $25 per week from April 1.

The permanent move hits when the coronavirus supplement is removed at the end of March.

However, the SA Council of Social Service (SACOSS) says the new figure is well below the $25 per day they had been advocating for some time.

Furthermore, they highlight that the new allowance will sit just below the poverty line in Australia.

SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley told Australian Community Media, owner of this masthead, the difference between what is required and what's been made available in payment is "stark".

The impact of the changing JobSeeker and the incomes that people have been receiving he says is also yet to be understood within regional SA.

"There are some areas of SA in particular that are still doing alright despite the COVID lockdown and implications but the reality is there are other areas in the economy, including regional areas, that have not recovered in the same way," he told Australian Community Media.

Yet added that the real worry in regional SA is the growth in underemployment.

"As a state we have a continuing issue with unemployment and the most recent figures pointed to unemployment are back to the similar levels to pre-Covid and we led the nation," he said.

Mr Womersley cites job numbers more than five per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels in the lower north and Yorke Peninsula, the Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island, and the Murray Mallee.

"For people in these industries and regions, the economy has not bounced back and ongoing support is needed," he said.

"We don't know how many more people will still lose their jobs, or their homes, in the weeks and months to come."

In support, he said economists, business and community leaders and other groups, have joined ACOSS and the welfare sector in a united call for an adequate, permanent increase to lift people out of poverty.

"The focus is on the federal government. We are hoping there is a parliamentary inquiry that is being set up that's going to run very quickly through the senate," Mr Womersley said.

"Our appeal really is to the government to say you need to appreciate people who have had such a hard time and this really isn't an adequate response to those people's needs."

This story JobSeeker: Parliamentary inquiry urged first appeared on The Murray Valley Standard.