Australians with youth allowance who have lost their jobs due to lockdowns say they are just surviving and are considering suspending their welfare payments because receiving them makes them ineligible for COVID-19 emergency payments from the federal government.
With more than 10 million Australians now locked up, Prime Minister Scott Morrison expanded the disaster payout to provide $ 600 and $ 375 to workers starting in the second week of lockdown.
However, workers who already receive income payments are excluded. JobSeeker recipients who had lost their jobs reported Crikey they were struggling to make ends meet because they had lost income immediately but received no additional support from the government.
No group of welfare recipients has been more affected by this decision than those receiving the youth allowance. In March 2021, 112,971 youth grant recipients, a third of the total number of Australians receiving this payment, reported some income in the past two weeks. Younger workers are also disproportionately represented in the retail and hospitality sectors and are employed on an occasional basis, meaning they are more likely to be affected by lockdowns.
Aimee Henry is a University of Wollongong student who has been receiving youth allowances and has lost her job at her informal job at a clothing store. Your youth allowance payment only covers your rent, and your work payment covers your bills, food, and other expenses.
“Since I’m on significantly reduced hours (a three-hour shift every fortnight, essentially), I’ve been relying on the small amount of savings I have and just giving up things that aren’t super essential,” he said. Crikey in a message.
Due to the position she is in, Aimee is worse off financially if she keeps the youth allowance than she would be if she stopped payments and applied for the COVID disaster payment. She has considered doing that, but is concerned about how difficult it will be to restart payments once the closings end.
“It was a struggle to get the amount of the youth allowance that I get and I am too stressed / worried that if I cancel it, it will be even more difficult to get it back once the COVID-19 disaster payment ends, so I prefer not to. take a chance, ”he said.
Other young Australians are in a similar situation. The comment section of Services Australia’s post on the COVID disaster has been flooded with income supporters asking why they are not eligible, including some about the youth allowance.
“This is really difficult for students who get Austudy which also worked, before COVID. $ 610 a fortnight doesn’t even cover the rent, ”said one person.
The spokeswoman for the young Australian group Think Forward, Sonia Arakkal, has called on the government to include youth grant recipients.
“Young people have been disproportionately affected; we know that they are the first to lose their jobs, the last to get vaccinated and the cohort that will live with the long-term effects of salary scars, ”he said.
“Whether it’s because of the tax system, health insurance or the vaccine launch, young Australians are constantly being asked to do the heavy lifting of supporting our nation, to take one for the team due to failures to ensure fairness. intergenerational in government policy “.