Jobseeker is a Feminist Issue

It is time we recognised that Jobseeker is a feminist issue. More specifically, it is an older women’s issue. Being on Jobseeker is the legacy of a lifetime of gender discrimination. Jobseeker is also where women land when gender discrimination fuses with age discrimination.

For some years now, women  aged 50+ have constituted the majority of those on Jobseeker. They are also on it for the longest periods – often 5 years or more.

They are dependent on Jobseeker not because they are ‘bludgers’ or social parasites. Quite the contrary. Most have spent their adults lives working – either paid employment or unpaid work at home. They are stuck on Jobseeker because almost half of Australian employers won’t employ older people, especially older women, according to an AHRC report.

Many of these women have swollen the ranks of the homeless. Indeed, they now constitute the fastest growing segment of homeless people in Australia.

They are forced to sleep in their cars, in tents and in parks. There is a direct correlation between the amount paid in Jobseeker, and the impoverishment and homelessness of older women.

The Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee initiated by Senator David Pocock, found that Jobseeker at $49 p.d. is significantly below all parameters of poverty and makes it difficult just to survive. It unreservedly called for an immediate increase by 40% to $68 p.d.

“People on these payments face the highest levels of financial stress in Australia,” the report said. The Committee’s report concluded that “unemployment payments have fallen to such an inadequate level that they create a barrier to paid work”.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has indicated he will reject the recommendations of the Committee to raise Jobseeker. In doing so, he is entrenching these older women in permanent poverty and increasing the likelihood and pace at which they will descend into homelessness. The Treasurer’s justification is that the Budget  “ can’t fund all good ideas.” But hunger and homelessness are not “ideas”. They devastate mental and physical health and threaten the very lives of these women. It is incumbent on governments to ensure that their people have the basic human right to food and shelter.

It would cost $24 billion to increase JobSeeker to 90 per cent of the rate of the age pension. But the Government cannot spare this amount. Whereas it can afford: $368 billion on questionable nuclear submarines, $254 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy, $11.2 billion each year in subsidies for fossil fuel industries. There is also the option of following Norway and Finland’s example of taxing windfall profits in order to finance social and economic security.

The fundamental problem is not the lack of funds or resources. It is the underlying ageist belief that these older women have negligible productive value. 

The upcoming Budget will fortunately include support for the economic security of younger women with children, and promote their participation in the workforce.

But there appears to be nothing for the economic security of women aged 50+.



If you liked our post, please consider becoming a supporter of

WomanGoing Places

A social enterprise advocating for economic security and social inclusion of Australian women aged 50+.

We campaign against the discrimination and general invisibility women 50+ face.
We tell the stories of women 50+ who are re-defining how women age.

SUBSCRIBE to receive latest posts in your Inbox.

SUPPORT our advocacy and keep us accessible to all women.

Please follow and like us:
2 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *