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Wednesday, 10 June 2020
Page: 3764


Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (10:24): I just wanted to share with the House a few of the life-changing stories about what has happened to people in my community who are now receiving the jobseeker and supplement payment. I actually want to acknowledge and congratulate the government for what they've done with this payment and urge them to keep it. Don't snap these people back into poverty.

The higher rate has meant for someone like Sharon that she's no longer living in a caravan park. After she lost her husband in 2012, she had to stop working. She was struggling, couch surfing. She couldn't get a job because she didn't have a home. She had no stability. She spoke out about the debilitating effect of living on Newstart. She was brave to share her story. She was at the stage where she was looking at pitching a tent and facing a winter in Castlemaine living in a tent when her rate increased. The jobseeker rate came in and with the supplement. She is now renting. She has now got the security of a home. She's started working; she got a job as a COVID patient screener. Her employment agency is so happy with her work they've found her more work. She is confident and optimistic.

Jane, a postgraduate IT professional, has also had a life-changing experience. She can now afford her rent as well. It is no longer a choice between food or rent. She's looking to complete further study and re-enter the workforce.

Gavin, who because of his disability, PTSD, and having diabetes, was also couch surfing. He was on Newstart and couldn't afford rent. The new jobseeker payment and supplement mean that Gavin is no longer making the choice between lifesaving medicines and rent. He's able to afford both. His diabetes is now stable. His diet has improved. And he's now looking to regain work in the building industry. He has said that the increase in the payment has been life changing.

These are three people who were struggling on the old rate of Newstart. These are three people whose lives have been changed. They now have the dignity, they now have the respect and they are now all actively working. If the jobseeker payment is about helping people into work, here are three examples of how the current rate is doing that. If the government want to see this success continue they cannot snap people back to the old rate. They must keep the higher rate going if we want more success stories like Gavin, Jane and Sharon.