Female leaders advocate for increasing JobSeeker to enhance women’s safety


In a concerted effort to address the critical issue of women’s safety, over 200 influential women leaders spanning various sectors such as business, unions, philanthropy, academia, and the community have penned a joint letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Their urgent plea? To raise the rates of JobSeeker and Youth Allowance, thereby enhancing economic security for women seeking to escape violence. 

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie AO highlighted that we cannot end violence against women without addressing poverty.  

“The fastest and most effective way to end poverty is by lifting JobSeeker and Youth Allowance payments so they are enough for women to live in safety and with dignity.” 

According to Djirra CEO Antoinette Braybrook AM, every woman who reaches out for our services for their safety is living in extreme poverty.    

“Economic security is vital to saving their lives, keeping mums with their children and, for our women, preventing criminalization and incarceration.” 

“Fixing the shockingly low rate of Jobseeker and Youth Allowance is an easy yet long overdue step towards saving Aboriginal women’s lives,” added Braybrook. 

Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, President of Chief Executive Women, highlighted the intimate connection between women’s economic stability and their safety. She stressed that poverty significantly impedes women’s ability to break free from domestic violence and underlined the necessity of bolstering the social safety net. 

“Repairing the social safety net to build women’s economic security must be a cornerstone of the government’s approach to solving gendered violence.” 

According to Sex Discrimination Commissioner Anna Cody, raising JobSeeker and related payments to livable levels could elevate roughly half a million women out of poverty. She emphasised that strengthening women’s economic security is paramount in enabling them to escape and remain free from violence. 

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Renowned actress Magda Szubanski AO, drawing from her experience in a women’s refuge decades ago, stressed the importance of sustained support for women leaving violent relationships. She emphasized the crucial role of adequate income support in breaking the cycle of violence. 

“It isn’t just supporting women to leave a violent relationship, but supporting them over the longer term. Adequate income support is crucial if we are to break the cycle.” 

Correna Haythorpe, Federal President of the Australian Education Union, pointed out the challenges faced by younger women surviving on Youth Allowance, a meager $45 a day. She emphasised the need for sufficient financial resources to support a safe pathway towards education and employment. 

“They need enough to support a pathway to safety, education and employment. One-off short-term payments are not enough.” 

Tasnia Alam Hannan, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of the Arise Foundation, criticised JobSeeker’s inadequacy, describing it as barely a lifeline and certainly not a safety net for women in need. She highlighted the damaging dilemma faced by women forced to choose between enduring poverty or remaining in violent situations. 

“For a service designed to support women into employment, JobSeeker is barely a lifeline, let alone a safety net.” 

“It forces women into an impossible choice between enduring poverty or staying in violent situations. Women need long-term economic security, including adequate income support, to cover essential expenses like rent and childcare,” added Hannan.  

The collective message from these influential women leaders is clear: addressing economic insecurity through increased support programs like JobSeeker and Youth Allowance is imperative to combatting gender-based violence effectively and safeguarding the lives and well-being of women across Australia.