Jesuit Social Services welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee’s consultation regarding the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Extension of Coronavirus Support) Bill 2020, which allows for the extension of the Coronavirus Supplement until 31 March 2021.
In this submission, we highlight that the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined pre-existing inequalities in society.
We emphasise that, as we look to recover, we should not simply aim to return to ‘business as usual,’ where people are punished for not having work, where profit outweighs environmental concerns, and where the needs of disadvantaged people are overlooked. Rather, we should aim for a fairer, more inclusive and compassionate society.
As a nation, our response to the damaging health and economic impacts of COVID-19 should be grounded in principles of justice and equity.
With levels of unemployment and underemployment set to continue to rise, the importance of a fair social safety net that ensures recipients have an adequate standard of living is only magnified.
Jesuit Social Services strongly advocates that JobSeeker and related payments be permanently maintained at a higher level than the old Newstart to ensure recipients do not live in poverty.
Now is also an opportunity to move away from the inflexible and arbitrary mutual obligation requirements, including unreasonable job search activity, that simply punished people for not being in work. It is evident that the problem for the Australian economy is not a lack of job search effort, rather that there are not enough jobs.
Jesuit Social Services supports ACOSS’s Raise The Rate For Good campaign.
As such, we cannot support the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Extension of Coronavirus Support) Bill 2020, which allows for an extension of the Coronavirus Supplement only until 31 March 2021, but further reducing the rate of the original the Jobseeker payment with no permanent increase.