Fears reduced JobSeeker payment will send families to the brink

Nicole Bowers continues to search for work. Photo: Megan Dunn.
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Kingswood resident Nicole Bowers is one of almost a million Australians who suddenly found themselves without work as a result of COVID-19.

The 46-year-old said her family would have been “financially crippled” if it weren’t for the lifeline JobSeeker Scheme.

However, with payment cuts to commence from September, Ms Bowers, like many other Australians, is on a desperate hunt for work.

After applying for 109 jobs and only hearing back from four, she said she’s starting to realise just how competitive and challenging this feat will be.

“My anxiety is through the roof, knowing I have a month to find a job,” she said.

“As a single parent who has always worked I am petrified for our future.”

The JobSeeker supplement of $550 per fortnight is available until September 24.

After this, the supplement will fall to $250 per fortnight, meaning people will receive $815 a fortnight.

The revised JobSeeker scheme will enable people to earn $300 a fortnight before facing a reduced payment, which equates to 60 cents for each dollar over.

Ms Bowers said she fears her age and health issues are impacting her job search due to the extreme competitiveness.

“It gives me great anxiety to think that I may struggle without successfully securing work,” she said.

“Many families will be pushed to their absolute limit.”

From August 4, mutual obligation requirements will gradually return.

All job seekers must accept any offer of paid work, with consequences for those who refuse employment without a reasonable excuse. Job seekers must also undertake appointments with an employment service provider.

Phase two of the mutual obligations will occur from the end of September, where people will be required to undertake a higher rate of job search. Means testing will also be reintroduced.

“If there is a job to be taken and a job that is being offered, then it is an obligation, a mutual obligation, for those who are on JobSeeker to take those jobs where they’re on offer,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said when announcing the revised scheme.

“We will make further decisions about JobSeeker closer to the end of the year or potentially even in the Budget.”

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