Calls to suspend job seeker obligations

·1-min read

Australia's peak welfare group says recipients of government payments are being put at risk of illness if they must continue meeting mutual obligations.

The Australian Council of Social Service on Monday called for the federal government to immediately pause payment obligations to help keep people safe while COVID cases surge.

They say many people subjected to mutual obligations are already sick or are caring for others who are sick and need to stay home.

The group proposes a suspension of the obligations - which include going to appointments with employment providers - until at least March.

ACOSS chief Cassandra Goldie says requiring people to attend face-to-face appointments puts them at unnecessary risk.

"We understand job service providers have been directed to be flexible, but our experience shows this rarely translates into universally safe practices," she said in a statement.

"This is why the government must suspend mutual obligations as it has in the past. We should not be worsening the health crisis and placing people at risk."

ACOSS also called for the government to increase income support payments to at least $69 a day, increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 50 per cent and introduce disability and single parent supplements.

At the most recent national cabinet meeting leaders agreed to provide free rapid antigen tests to more than six million Australians who are concessional card holders.

The kits will start being distributed through pharmacies within the next two weeks.

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