Strengthening the Safety Net Bill

This month the Federal Parliament passed the Strengthening the Safety Net Bill. This legislation, according to the Government, will deliver small but much needed improvements to the social security system. While much attention is being paid to the extension of eligibility to Parenting Payment Single, the Bill also contains changes that will impact other Centrelink payments.

The Bill also legislates payment rate increases to JobSeeker Payment and related payments, as well as Commonwealth Rent Assistance.

Once the changes come into effect on 20 September 2023, the new rate of JobSeeker Payment will rise to $56 a day, up from $50.

This is well below the $76 a day rate that community organisations were calling for, and is also below the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee’s finding that an adequate unemployment rate would mean raising JobSeeker Payment to 90 per cent of the Age Pension.

The Australian Council of Social Service describes the new payment increases as continuing to be a ‘poverty payment’.

While SSRV welcomes the increase in the JobSeeker Payment, we support calls for further increases to the rate of working age payments to help address the ongoing issue of poverty.

Circumstances of poverty and homeless are issues that SSRV commonly sees. Without secure ongoing income support at a rate above the poverty line, individuals are at significant risk of falling behind in rental payments. This can quickly lead to eviction and homelessness. SSRV supports clients, and works in conjunction with other support services, to help people in these situations and will continue to call for further increases to working age payments.

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