Dole rate to cause 'avalanche' for charity

·2-min read

A major charity is bracing for an avalanche of Australians needing financial support when the coronavirus boost is stripped from welfare payments.

The supplement was initially $550 per fortnight and is now $150, but will end on March 31.

Parliament is currently debating a bill to increase the JobSeeker unemployment support rate to about $44 a day, which increases it from the pre-pandemic level of $40 a day.

UnitingCare Australia's national director Claerwen Little is "deeply, deeply disappointed".

"Our services are about to be avalanched with people who cannot pay their bills, people who cannot afford their food, people who cannot afford to live in their rental accommodation anymore," she told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

"We could have been celebrating today that permanent, adequate increase that we've been all asking for. But we're not."

People on welfare support are fearful about what's about to happen to them, Ms Little said.

Women's Legal Service Queensland chief Angela Lynch says the coronavirus supplement had let people live a dignified life.

"It has allowed them to be able to put food on the table for themselves and their children," she said.

"It also has allowed them to put some savings aside, which they were never able to do before, to escape domestic violence relationships."

Ms Lynch said 90 per cent of women who seek domestic violence services have been financially abused.

"Financial abuse can be deadly."

University student Avery is on Youth Allowance and has a casual job that offers about one shift every three months.

When the virus supplement ends he will be left with $14 each fortnight after rent, groceries and bills, even when skipping meals and medication.

Avery says the government's argument that the best form of welfare is a job is disgusting and untrue.

"The best form of welfare is welfare."

The JobSeeker rate bill passed the lower house on Wednesday and is set for the Senate, where it needs to pass by the end of the week.

Greens leader Adam Bandt failed to change the bill to ensure JobSeeker is above the poverty line, with only fellow crossbenchers Zali Steggall, Rebekha Sharkie, Helen Haines and Andrew Wilkie in support.

The Greens will try to change the bill in the Senate to make JobSeeker $80 a day.

Labor's social services spokeswoman Linda Burney has not yet outlined its ideal JobSeeker rate, and voted for the bill as is.

"We will not be giving cruel, false hope to people by moving money amendments that simply cannot succeed because of the rules of the parliament," she told parliament on Tuesday night.