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Many Aussies struggling to survive on insecure income

26 July 2021 at 5:05 pm
Luke Michael
Welfare groups believe things will only get worse amid ongoing lockdowns 

Luke Michael | 26 July 2021 at 5:05 pm


Many Aussies struggling to survive on insecure income
26 July 2021 at 5:05 pm

Welfare groups believe things will only get worse amid ongoing lockdowns 

Charities warn that people with insecure work are falling through the cracks of the social security system, with new research showing two in five Australians are living on an insecure income.

A poll from Anglicare Australia and Ipsos found that 39 per cent of people had dealt with an insecure income over the past year, amid a booming gig economy that offers none of the protections and entitlements of full-time work. 

Young people have been particularly affected, with 56 per cent of people under 29 experiencing income insecurity in Australia. 

Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said insecure incomes and work have become rampant across the country. 

“These people are falling through the cracks. The JobSeeker payment is too low and too restrictive,” Chambers said. 

“Many people who work casually can’t even get it.” 

Chambers told Pro Bono News this research was conducted because the charity was concerned about seeing more people who were employed needing emergency relief and financial counselling services.                                               

The survey of 1,001 people was taken in early May before the most recent lockdowns, and Chambers said things would only get worse as restrictions continued on. 

New data from Infoxchange (which runs Ask Izzy) backs this up, with analysis showing demand for financial support has more than doubled in New South Wales since the start of their latest lockdown.

But Chambers notes this issue was “something bigger than the pandemic” and would not dissipate when the COVID threat is over.    

“We could see the risk to workers not having entitlements [like sick leave] a long time before we had the pandemic,” she said.

“But certainly at the moment, people who had insecure work going into the pandemic are going to be way harder hit than people with the nine to five job with sick leave entitlements. 

“And what we see is that people are needing to go into work even if [they’re sick]… And of course, that puts public health at risk.”

It comes as a new Australian Council of Social Service report found people in the NSW lockdown on social security payments were struggling to survive, because they were excluded from the federal government’s COVID Disaster Payments.  

ACOSS said welfare recipients who have lost work should be given access to the $375 or $600 payment. 

Chambers said Anglicare would also like to see access to the payment extended to those who are out of work or who have insecure work.

“People who have an irregular pattern of work are not able to prove that they’ve lost the required number of hours to qualify for these payments,” she said.

“People who are on JobSeeker are still on that incredibly low level of about $310 a week for a single person. It is not possible for these people to be surviving on that.

“Without the kind of things that we had last year, like the rental moratoriums and JobKeeper, we’re going to see real issues as people can’t pay their rent.”

Chambers added that action must also be taken to make work more secure and ensure casual workers are protected. 

“On a long-term basis, what we really want to do is start a conversation about whether as a country we want to have over half our workforce without access to leave entitlements,” she said.

“If people haven’t got access to sick leave and can’t take things like recreation leave, what does that actually mean for us all?”

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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