Distressing number of people receiving JobSeeker seek Vinnies’ help with food

20 February 2021

The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW distributed more than $1 million worth of food vouchers to people receiving JobSeeker (or its predecessor Newstart) in 2020.

“More than a third of people who sought assistance from Vinnies last year were receiving JobSeeker or Newstart and about half of them needed help to pay for food,” St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO, Jack de Groot said.

“This is the unfortunate natural progression that occurs when unemployment support payments are below the poverty line.

“The COVID supplement was welcome, even though its temporary nature made it something hard to be particularly enthusiastic about.

“That said, our members saw a 75 percent reduction in requests for assistance from people receiving JobSeeker in the second half of 2020, when compared to the same time period in 2019.

“This coincided with the period when the COVID supplement to JobSeeker was introduced and before its first cut last September.

“As the supplement has been reduced, we’ve seen requests for help from people receiving JobSeeker begin to climb back up.

“We need to permanently raise the rate above the poverty line so that people can cover the basics.

“The way it stands, the Government is outsourcing unemployment support to charity.

“It’s an indictment on the Federal Government that nearly half of the people we helped in 2020, who were on Jobseeker or Newstart, needed food.

“Jobseeker enforces subsistence living, where people receiving it struggle to pay for food, rent, electricity bills, and other vitally important things.

“What this absolutely does not do is put people in a position to find a job.

“You can’t pay for the expenses of job-seeking while struggling to pay for food, let alone be forced into a position where you need to seek help from a charity so you have enough to eat.

“And people on unemployment support should be supported to the point that they don’t need to approach organisations like Vinnies for food,” Mr de Groot said.

Media contact:  Lachlan Jones  |  0417 446 430