JobSeeker increased last month in line with the bi-annual indexation but some Wollongong residents are calling for the government to increase payments to align with the cost of living.
It comes as Treasurer Jim Chalmers addressed Australia’s inflation problems in today’s press conference on the upcoming federal budget.
“The worst of the inflationary pressures are behind us but they will hang around higher than we like for longer than we like,” Mr Chalmers said.
In March, the JobSeeker rate increased by $24.70 a fortnight, from $668.40 to $693.10.
This is an extra $1.77 per day, taking daily payments from $47.75 to $49.50.
According to the ABC, this is 57 per cent below minimum wage and 34 per cent below the age pension.
Local resident, Kittie Humphries, received JobSeeker payments last year. Her partner Dave is still on JobSeeker.
She said Dave is noticing an increase in job availability but few are suitable to his skill set and experience.
“JobSeeker is difficult. They will send you for jobs whether they think they’re suitable or not, despite the fact that the whole principle of it is to find a job that is suitable,” Ms Humphries said.
“If you don’t comply with their terms of agreement of doing the said job, no matter the conditions, you will be cut off for 8-12 weeks. Dave has been cut off before for not doing a domestic cleaning job when he’s always been a labourer.
“It wasn’t within the parameters of what he needs, being a parent as it was based in Sydney. So his options were do the job, give up his parental care rights with his daughter or get cut off for 12 weeks, which is what has happened.”
Ms Humphries said Dave has also noticed limitations on his payments.
“We didn’t even notice what the increase was, it was so small,” she said.
“I know a lot of people think JobSeeker recipients don’t have a job and are living some high life off free government money, but people that are on it are usually desperate and it’s not enough to live.
“The reality is most people can barely afford to pay rent, electricity bills and pay for food. It’s not a liveable wage by any means.”