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South-west charities are prepared for surge in clients due to JobSeeker cuts

Saturday, November 28, 2020 - 11:15


South-west charities are bracing for a wave of clients after JobSeeker rates were slashed on Friday.

The $550 fortnightly Coronavirus Supplement has reduced by $150 per week, leaving single people without dependents with about $815 a fortnight or $58 a day.

The supplement, which more than 1900 people access in Warrnambool, will also be scrapped beyond December 31.

Warrnambool and District Food Share executive officer Dedy Friebe said the charity was already experiencing a turn-around in community demand.

"We've been preparing for a reduction in government payments and have taken some strategic measures to increase our stock, particularly staple food," he said.

"We are awaiting a local shipment of stock we bought to make sure we can handle a spike in demand, which we expect once the impact of lower weekly money access hits the community.

"We are gearing up and are quite ready to take that on."

Mr Friebe said during the pandemic, Food Share was approached by communities in Portland, Heywood and Hamilton seeking additional food support.

"We of course obliged," he said.

"And what's happening now is that as the restrictions are easing, agencies have more outreach staff that were working from home, returning to normal, and for us that means both an additional out-of-town demand as well as increasing in-town demand."

Warrnambool Salvation Army admin manager Chris Philpot said the city's branch was yet to see an increase in people seeking help.

"It's hard to know what will happen, we are preparing best we can," Mr Philpot said.

The branch saw 40 per cent fewer people seeking help during the height of the restrictions to stop the virus spreading.


Warrnambool Salvation Army admin manager Chris Philpot said groceries and accommodation costs would become more costly for some.

"We are just waiting to see if it's going to increase again or not," he said.

Mr Philpot said groceries and housing would become more costly for people as welfare payments reduced.

"There might be some people who are in stable accommodation and the extra $250 they are receiving will be enough, but then you might have others where life is getting quite difficult again financially," he said.

"Some people are going to struggle buying the necessary food they buy each week and that extra money would have been able to take care of that."

He said one concern was the current restrictions did not allow "couch surfing" for people without stable accommodation.

"The system does not allow it to happen."

Jessica Howard, Jackson Graham
Warrnambool Standard Newspaper