Cathy Crawford from The Women's Centre, Townsville. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Cathy Crawford from The Women's Centre, Townsville. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Fears women will be hardest hit by cuts

Townsville Women's Centre is bracing for what they fear will be an influx of women with nowhere else to turn after changes were announced yesterday to the Federal Government's JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments.

Cuts to JobSeeker will see contributions more than halved to $250 come October.

But in a positive, the organisation's much awaited $4.235 million new facility is now on track to be completed in August, just in time to help combat the fallout from the change in government payments.

The Women's Centre provides free counselling services to all women who need help with domestic and family violence, sexual assault, women's health, homelessness, financial difficulties and more.

With construction beginning earlier this year, Woollam Constructions has powered through the coronavirus lockdown to have the much-needed facility open as soon as possible.

Co-ordinator Cathy Crawford said she was extremely concerned about what will happen when JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments change in October.

The Federal Government yesterday announced the JobSeeker payment top up would be more than halved to $250 - on top of the baseline $550 - from October.

"We expect we'll see women that we've never seen before because they're going to be in new situations that they've never been in before," Ms Crawford said.

"I'm also concerned that the extra income has helped people in poverty over the last few months, going back means that they're again falling well below the poverty line."

When the new facility opens, Ms Crawford said she hoped the centre would be given more resources to help people in the wake of coronavirus. "We are hoping that we will be further resourced to create more programs, particularly personal support skill based programs and employment programs and we're looking at social enterprise," she said.

The project, which was first proposed in 2006, will ensure the women's centre has room to grow and to suit the community's needs.

State Communities Minister Coralee O'Rourke said this was a much-needed service that would support women of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

"The centre will have a particular focus on older women and women with disability, and importantly will be there to provide support services at a time when many women are doing it tough as a result of the global economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," the Mundingburra MP said.

Originally published as Fears women will be hardest hit by cuts