Take Action to Raise the Rate for Good

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Today Vinnies is joining a national day of action calling on the Australian Government to raise the rate for good.

More than 1.6 million people are receiving the JobSeeker Payment and relying on it to afford the basics, including housing. Going back to the old Newstart rate of $40 a day would be devastating.

Today the Raise the Rate For Good campaign will be splashed across social media and the news, and you can be sure that politicians are taking notice too. There’s a simple thing you can do right now to make the call more powerful – will you sign the statement of support to raise the rate for good?

Vinnies NSW has already signed on as an organisation, but we need members of the public to put their support behind this too. Together, we can tell our elected representatives that everyone deserves enough to cover the basics of life.

 

Why raise the rate for good?

It’s clear that the economic crisis caused by coronavirus will take a long time to clear. More people than ever will be struggling to find paid work – government modelling shows that over 2 million people are expected to be without paid work by September. And if we allow the JobSeeker rate to fall to the old level, many of these people will plunge below the poverty line.

 

Before the rate was raised due to the coronavirus pandemic, more than 4 in every 5 Newstart recipients skipped meals to save money (source: ACOSS). It was even worse for Youth Allowance recipients – 9 in 10 were skipping meals (source: ACOSS).

Things were bad for young people, but many older people were living in poverty as well. Half of all Newstart recipients were over 45 years of age, and were women. Pam Markiewicz, a 64-year-old grandmother, was trapped on the Newstart payment while she waited to become eligible for the age pension. She desperately tried to find work, but no one would employ her due to her age (and because there simply weren’t –and still aren’t – enough jobs available for everyone who’s looking for work). It was a catch-22.

“I live on a very poor diet – usually porridge or different forms of eggs. There are nights when I go to bed hungry because I don’t have any food… even some medications I can’t afford. I go without it and it’s detrimental to my health. But you’ve got no choice – if you can’t afford it, then you don’t get it,” Pam told us last year.

Pam Markiewicz is a former full-time receptionist and now volunteers for Vinnies.

After the rate was raised, life for people like Pam has been completely transformed. Not only can people afford to eat three square meals a day – now 92.8% say they can even afford fresh fruit and veggies. More people are back on their essential medications and able to see the doctor, and JobSeeker recipients say they are now able to pay their bills straight away instead of accruing debt. (Source: ACOSS)

You only need to read the stories of people who’ve benefited from the increased rate to know it has to stay. It’s the right thing to keep people fed, housed and clothed – and it’s also the right thing to keep our economy moving.

 

Help us raise the rate for good