Demand for food parcels, emergency relief down during COVID-19 thanks to JobSeeker boost: The Rock Family and Community Service

SUPPORT SERVICE: The Rock Family and Community Support volunteers, pictured last year.
SUPPORT SERVICE: The Rock Family and Community Support volunteers, pictured last year.

COVID-19 and increased unemployment payments has meant reduced demand for food parcels and emergency funding in recent months, according to one Redlands community support service.

But there are fears there will be a huge resurgence after JobSeeker is reduced in September.

The Rock Family and Community Support - which offers things like food packages and emergency relief assistance to people struggling financially - has seen fewer residents seeking help since JobSeeker payments were upped in response to COVID-19.

Pastor Elizabeth Rodd said in some cases, people who had relied on food parcels were now able to get by without them.

"But I think it's the calm before the storm," she said.

She said since the Federal Government announced cuts to JobKeeper and JobSeeker, more people had been coming in for food packages and support.

"I think they're anticipating that they may not have the extra money that they've had up until now," she said.

From September, the coronavirus fortnightly supplement for those on JobSeeker will be slashed from $550 to $250, meaning the overall fortnightly payment - including the supplement and the base JobSeeker rate - will be reduced from $1100 to $800.

Those on JobSeeker will now be able to earn up to $300 before their payment is reduced, compared to the previous threshold of about $100.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told 2GB last week that no decisions had been made on the future of the payment beyond September.

"(Cuts are) based on the assessment that you can't keep burning $11 billion dollars of cash every month ... at those higher rates," he said.

"You've got to start weaning the Australian economy off these income supports.

"Where you set JobSeeker and how you make people eligible for JobSeeker, that can be, as Treasury has also advised, a real incentive or disincentive for people to actually go out and go to work.

"We've got to make these decisions closer to when we know what the economic conditions are."

Pastor Rodd said some people had used increased payments to get themselves back on their feet, including getting into housing.

"Other people are going to struggle, particularly people who are not good with budgeting, and I think we're going to see a huge resurgence of people coming in for emergency relief funding," she said.

RFACS had also seen an increase in people looking for domestic violence support during COVID-19.

"We've been able to offer emotional and spiritual support as well as financial," Pastor Rodd said.

"There's a lot of people who are just needing someone to talk to, some companionship."

RFACS is at Hook Street, Capalaba.