When the first rumblings of COVID-19 emerged out of China in late 2019, few people envisioned the health, social and financial devastation that would follow across the globe.
With so many people affected by the upheaval of the coronavirus, we have advocated to ensure that NSW residents and people across Australia are supported through these unprecedented times.
Increases To Jobseeker
The Federal Government’s decision to introduce a $550 coronavirus supplement to the JobSeeker (formerly Newstart) payment helped to restore dignity to the lives of people forced to live on $40 per day for too long. While we welcomed the decision to temporarily increase JobSeeker during the pandemic, we continue to call for a permanent increase to Australia’s social safety net, recognising the right of all people to live free of poverty.
“Before the pandemic we had a ridiculously low rate for Newstart that entrenched poverty. People are extraordinarily anxious about what will happen over the coming months, so it is essential that the government maintains JobSeeker at a higher rate to give them a chance,” said Jack de Groot, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO.
We were one of more than 100 social service signatories to a letter from the Tenants’ Union of NSW, calling on all levels of government to introduce a moratorium on evictions from rental properties during this global health crisis.
In response, the NSW Government introduced a six-month evictions moratorium in April. While this was a pleasing result, we continue to advocate for protections on behalf of tenants who may be at risk of accruing unsustainable debts in back-dated rent.
Support For Migrants, Temporary Visa Holders And Refugees
We believe Australia is made richer by the contributions of people from all backgrounds, and we pride ourselves on welcoming people who need our help. We were disappointed to see international students, migrants and people seeking asylum overlooked in the Federal Government’s initial response to the coronavirus. While the NSW Government subsequently announced support packages to assist with temporary accommodation and reducing isolation, the Society was there in the meantime to provide desperately needed food and care packages for temporary visa holders doing it tough.