Seeking a job in the time of COVID-19

Photo: Australian Unemployed Workers' Union

I was on NewStart for a few months before the coronavirus crisis took off.

I had been laid off — with one hour’s notice — from a casual call centre job where I had been working for two months.

I received about $280 a week, or $560 a fortnight on NewStart: it was nowhere near enough to live on after paying rent and needing to pay for groceries. So, I also had a casual job at a restaurant that paid an extra $100 or so a week.

Still, $380 a week was not enough to live on, and anyway I lost all this when the COVID-19 shutdown began.

My brother also recently lost his job due to the COVID-19 shut-downs, and he has been trying to apply for the JobKeeper allowance. Like so many others, he has had trouble logging in to his Centrelink account. This was down to an error with the system, that is, it was not his fault, and he had to create a new account, which meant he had to verify his identity and wait for a call from Centrelink.

It now appears that it will be at least a month, maybe longer, before he receives any payment. He needs it now to help our dad pay the rent.

NewStart was always too low, and we have to insist that the COVID-19-inspired JobSeeker rate raise remains, especially in light of the millions being spent on bailing out corporations such as Qantas and Virgin.