With a major reduction in the JobSeeker looming many people, including some who have never been unemployed before, will be looking at a dramatic drop in their income support.
For some, it will mean they will have to make some very hard choices about what they spend their money on.
The boost to JobSeeker, or Newstart as it was previously known, in the thick of the pandemic was the best thing for the Commonwealth to do to keep the economy in some sort of shape.
Along with JobKeeper, it has held off a much greater economic crisis for many.
But as the reduction approaches, and in the New Year a return to the original rate, it begs the question how to we change it to make it better for all?
We need to delve deeper into the whole income support system and revamp it for the future.
Australia needs a system which gives people support when they aren’t in work, but doesn’t encourage them to languish on the payment and not go out and train or get a job.
We need to motivate and encourage people toward employment, and to improve their skills and training, because that’s best for the overall economy.
But we can’t see people living in poverty, having to choose between staying warm or eating, or even unable to pay the rent and forced out of their homes.
We need to find the sweet spot between support and encouragement.
It is never going to be a one-size-fits-all approach.
But the base should be a way that people can live while they find their new pathway.
It also needs to be more flexible and allow people to take on short-term work, such as in the agriculture and horticulture sector, as a way to boost their income and gain some work which will also show potential future employers that they are ready and willing.
The best way to climb out of the recession brought on by the pandemic is to build a vibrant and responsive economy which supports everyone when they need it, and encourages enterprise and effort.
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