Heatwaves are the deadliest environmental disaster in Australia. We need to make sure everyone can prioritise their safety, and the safety of their family and communities when it gets hot.
Unfortunately, the hundreds of thousands of people on Jobseeker payments who need to go to appointments, comply with their Employment Services Provider, or meet the other requirements for their payments may have to put their safety second. When people on Jobseeker payments don’t meet every requirement from Services Australia, they receive penalties and might have their payments cut off.
Travelling to appointments, waiting for public transport, walking long distances or working outdoors or in hot warehouses can all be dangerous during heatwaves. On top of this, people on Jobseeker are more likely to have a hard time in the heat for health reasons, because they are more likely to live in hot homes, or because they don’t have the money to keep cool.
We know that the payments are already very low, and that the housing affordability crisis is putting even more pressure on people. Getting payments suspended might mean that someone can’t afford groceries, medication or other essentials. It’s not fair that people have to weigh up their safety, and their financial security.
During floods, fires, the Covid-19 pandemic or other ‘natural disasters’, Services Australia suspends penalties so that people don’t need to worry that their payments are going to get cut off. The same should be true for severe or extreme heatwaves.
Additionally, there should be payments like in other disasters, that make sure people aren’t getting sick or dying because they couldn’t afford to keep cool.
If you think that people shouldn’t get penalised for prioritising their safety on hot days, sign and share this petition.
The Social Services Minister can make this change now, before our summer gets really hot.
Read out letter to Minister Rishworth, Burke and Leigh here: