Students have criticised the government’s decision to permanently raise the base rate of welfare payments by only $50 a fortnight — $3.75 per day — when the $150 Coronavirus supplement ends next month.
This means there will be a net decrease of $100 to current fortnightly welfare payments.
In a statement released this afternoon, the National Union of Students (NUS) said that “it is clear that this so-called new chapter is one of renewed disregard for students and young people.”
“There are eight Australians on JobSeeker for every job vacancy. Effectively, the Government is ensuring that 243,770 people are institutionally kept in poverty.”
The NUS also criticised the government for “prioritis[ing] the amount of cash in the pockets of the top end of town,” pointing to Social Services Minister Anne Ruston’s comment that the welfare system must be ”fair and sustainable for the people who need it and the taxpayers who pay for it.”
Lia Perkins, Welfare Officer of the Students’ Representative Council at Sydney University, told Honi that “An extra $3.57 a day is inadequate to live on and will have a devastating effect on students. It’s difficult for many students to study full time and work, and finding a job is often impossible.”
“Not raising the rate to $80 a day is appalling because it’s the bare minimum students and the community need to not have to forego food, medication, or rent.”
This figure is in line with the Australian Unemployed Workers Union’s (AUWU) #80aDay campaign, which seeks to push unemployment payments to the poverty line.
“We will not go quietly or be cowed by this open attempt to beat us into submission.” the AUWU said. “We will fight the Morrison government harder than we ever have before for social security above the poverty line and an end to the brutal ‘mutual’ obligations regime.”
The changes to welfare payments will commence on 1 April and will apply to JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy, ABSTUDY and parenting payments.