news

"I feel forgotten about." 3 women on what it's really like trying to access the JobKeeper payment.

The women in this story are known to Mamamia but all names have been changed for privacy reasons. The feature image used is a stock photo.

If someone else has broken both their legs, it doesn’t mean your broken arm doesn’t hurt.

This is the sentence that sums up the conversations Mamamia has had this week with those struggling financially thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone’s story is unique, and exists on a spectrum.

More than 1.3 million Australians are receiving unemployment benefits across the country, many for the first time.

WATCH: Today’s coronavirus news headlines. Post continues after video. 


Video by Today Show

But there are so many potholes, missteps and people falling through the cracks, which is expected of course, when the situation is so dire. But it’s the scale of hardships that’s so hard to comprehend, while some are panicking about their next meal, others are simply grieving for the house deposit they no longer have.

There are just so many stories.

From travel, to hospitality, to the arts – there are so many industries that’ve been decimated. Younger Australians and women have been hit the hardest because they are more likely to be employed in occupations and industries most affected by the response to COVID-19.

It’s estimated 1.1 million casuals alone have missed out on the government payments due to the restrictions on eligibility.

The three stories in this article are by no means the worst out there – but what they do is show the complexities of our current reality, which exist even for those that have qualified for a stimulus package.

Katie – retail.

“I’ve been rejected from JobKeeper from my retail job of 2.5 years because I have permanent employment elsewhere – even though I make much less than $750 at my other job.

The only reason I have the other place of employment is because the JobKeeper package got announced too late, and my employer didn’t let us know they were applying until the end of April. So the only choice I had in the meantime was to apply for this other job to have some sort of income.

The last two months have been a real struggle, luckily I have super kind parents who have helped me out with groceries here and there even though they are struggling themselves.

I still thankfully have the second job, however it’s five days a week on less money, when I could be sitting at home on JobKeeper.

ADVERTISEMENT

The system just doesn’t really make sense because even though I have other “permanent employment” it doesn’t change the fact that I’m not earning a huge amount here. If I had found out about the JobKeeper program earlier I would have had the extra cash I need to keep up with my loans. By being proactive and organised I have ended up in a worse situation.”

Lucy – architecture.

“I worked in an architecture firm which lost all of its work thanks to the coronavirus, but I was told I was ineligible for JobKeeper.

I followed up with the ATO and my accountant and found out I was in fact eligible. My boss has not returned a single call or email since I found out I was made redundant.

I am ineligible for JobSeeker because I have a share portfolio which means I apparently have too much money in savings to qualify. To be honest I feel like I have been let down and forgotten about by the government. I am currently receiving no form of income and I thought the whole point of JobKeeper was to help people in a similar situation to me?

I have lost $4,500 from my share portfolio already, and I don’t want to sell the shares because I’d be doing so at a large loss. I can’t get any financial assistance even though I am out of work (and expect to be for some time), and yet I am still required to pay rent and bills.

It’s frustrating that as a young professional, who will be paying for all of these subsidies in my tax for years to come, I’m missing out now when I need help. I wanted to buy a house next year, and now won’t be able to because I’m using that money to live.”

Carmel – hospitality.

“My employers are a young couple. It’s their first business together and they told us they can’t afford to pay us more than the $750 JobKeeper but that “we all have to hustle hard during this time and work our butts off for less money – them included”.

But it’s not my business, and they wouldn’t let me work less hours to make up for the significant pay difference. I am making $400 less a week.

They’re also NEVER at work. They’ve always got an excuse for ‘popping out’. After two and a half weeks of kicking up a fuss, they are now letting me work four days at the lower rate but they still aren’t working their fair share. I’m about to quit because the stress and frustration isn’t worth it.

My role has turned into managing online orders and doing things that are extremely different to my regular role. I’ve had to spend money on computer software and use my own personal laptop to do new responsibilities.

If I go back to studying with the government Austudy supplement, I will earn the exact same as I am getting through JobKeeper.

It’s really hard because I know I’m privileged to have a job in this industry in the current climate, but this situation has made me lose my love for the business and owners. I know I’m worth more and so if I’m able to step back and study and make my way into a new industry then I will do that.”

Feature image: Getty.