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Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, will join a group of young unemployed Tasmanians in Anti-Poverty Week to hear how the housing crisis negatively impacts their lives, mental health and chances of landing a job.

Mr Wilkie said The Real Youth Survival Report 2020 highlighted the need for increased investment in social housing and for JobSeeker and other government pensions and payments to be above the poverty line to provide a genuine living income.

“This is shocking reading,” Mr Wilkie said. “Young Tasmanians have reported being homeless, breaking the law to get a place to sleep, feeling their lives were threatened due to homelessness and not being able to afford rent.

“They skip meals, couch surf and can’t afford to see a doctor. They’re in financial stress and their mental health suffers.”

Mr Wilkie said JobSeeker, which has replaced Youth Allowance and Newstart, must not fall below its current level which includes a $250 fortnightly Coronavirus Supplement.

“For people looking for work in a very tough jobs market, JobSeeker is a reprieve from the old Newstart rate of $40 a day that forced people into deep poverty,” he said. “When the rate of unemployment support is so low, you’re actually creating a barrier to employment and sentencing young people to a life of poverty. We’re setting these young people up to fail when they can’t even afford the bus fare to get to a job interview.

“The Prime Minister must commit to never return to anything so low and instead guarantee a living income above the poverty line for all Government pensions and payments including JobSeeker, the Age Pension and Disability Support Pension.”

Mr Wilkie said The Federal Budget was a missed opportunity to address these fundamental challenges.

“It beggars belief that Australia is headed for a trillion dollars in debt and we have not addressed these two major causes of poverty – a lack of housing and inadequate government pensions and payments,” he said.