More than five million Australians on welfare have had their payments boosted but the social services sector is warning the increases don’t go far enough.
People on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy, ABSTUDY and the Youth Disability Support Pension will receive an extra $40 per fortnight in addition to the $16 increase from indexation from Wednesday.
But the Australian Council for Social Service said the higher rate was still less than half the minimum wage.
CEO Cassandra Goldie said an incremental increase “means nothing when it is so low to begin with”.
“We’re punishing people for being unemployed,” she said.
“It’s cruel to expect anyone to be able to meet the basic cost of living.”
National Seniors Australia’s chief advocate Ian Henschke said while the boost to the age pension was welcomed, the elderly and renters were still being left behind, especially while inflation remained unusually high.
“What we need is additional targeted support for people with limited means and to stop punishing those who need to work,” he said, referring to calls to increase the income threshold so pensioners can work more without losing their payments.
Greens senator Janet Rice said the income increases only tinkered around the edges of a broken system and the combined increases still left people in poverty.
“People on Jobseeker will still struggle to afford food as well as their medicine, more and more students will abandon their studies because they can’t afford to study and pay the rent,” she said.
Her Senate colleague Larissa Waters also called on the government to increase the single parenting payment age limit, with welfare cutting off when a child turns 14.
“Parents of kids who are 14, 15 and 16 deserve the same level of support,” she said.
But Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said it offered practical assistance to Australian households.
“It means more money in the pockets of those doing it toughest, and that will make a difference,” Ms Rishworth said in a statement.
Singles on JobSeeker will collect an extra $56.10, which brings their fortnightly payments to $749.20.
Renters on income support will receive an extra $27.60 per fortnight. This is expected to provide relief to about 1.1 million households around the country.
Veterans on a service pension will receive an extra $32.70 with those on the Disability Compensation Payment receiving an additional $53 a fortnight.
A range of other support recipients including those on the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment are set to receive a $32.70 increase for singles, or $49.40 extra for couples combined.
Income limits for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card recipients have increased by $5400 to $95,400 a year for singles and by $8640 to $152,640 a year for couples combined.
Kat Wong and Dominic Giannini
(Australian Associated Press)