Lifestyle Why workers need urgent help

Why workers need urgent help

How long could you live on $66 before going hungry? Disturbing research from Swinburne University of Technology reveals why support for tenants became such a key element of Australia’s COVID-19 response.

By mid-March, federal and state governments were so worried they introduced unprecedented measures including rent relief and a moratorium on evictions.

The Swinburne research shows mass homelessness could have been the outcome if they didn’t.

“We identify [one} at-risk group as those aged between 19 and 30 years, living independently with disposable incomes of A$600 a week from casual work or a combination of casual work and benefits,” the report’s authors say.

After losing pay due to voluntary closures and government-enforced shutdowns across hospitality, events and retail, a typical casual worker in this category living in share accommodation in Sydney would see their weekly income slashed by around half.

“Their rent then takes up 80 per cent of their income, leaving them with A$66 a week to live on after rent,” the report’s authors say.

“The potential impact of the downturn on the disposable income of people with very low incomes means they will be in extreme rental stress unless they have savings.”

With many casual workers in debt, rather than having savings, the likely result would have been eviction and homelessness for thousands of Australians.

Research to understand the economic impact of coronavirus is only possible if we support our universities. To keep Australia clever, please sign the petition below.