People receiving the unemployment benefit will be given an extra $50 a fortnight once coronavirus supplements end in April.
It is the first increase to the permanent base of JobSeeker and other payments like Austudy since the mid 1990s, but people receiving the payments say it will be a return to 'living hell'.
Ballarat resident Tim Malone said he laughed 'so hard' when the $25 a week increase was announced last week, asking himself 'how out of touch' politicians could be.
"I don't want to be on Centrelink. I really don't. If I could wave a magic wand I would walk into a place and they would say here is an apprenticeship for you," he said.
"Then I would flip Centrelink the bird so I don't have to deal with it any more.
"How stupid do you have to be? What is $25 going to get you from the supermarket?"
"There was no food. The fridge was empty. I got anxiety and depression. There was no money for car repairs or fuel, there was no money for clothes or shoes.Tim Malone, Austudy recipient
Mr Malone said being on JobSeeker now and before the pandemic hit was 'living hell'.
He said boosted payments during the pandemic last year to $1000 a fortnight meant he was able to live rather than simply survive.
"Before the pandemic I found myself with utilities nearly being cut. I got two eviction notices, not being able to pay rent," Mr Malone said.
"There was no food. The fridge was empty. I got anxiety and depression. There was no money for car repairs or fuel, there was no money for clothes or shoes.
"Living is having all of your needs met.... surviving is waking up every morning going is there going to be enough for school food, for snacks today, do I have something for a meal for the kids tonight?
"Majority of the time I don't eat because there is not enough. My doctors screams at me for that because I have type two diabetes.
"There are times there has been a month I don't go without my medication because I don't have $20 to get it."
RELATED COVERAGE: Federal government increases JobSeeker by $3.50 a day
Mr Malone said receiving $1000 throughout the pandemic last year meant he could cover the costs of rent and utilities, fill his car with petrol, pay registration and purchase clothes, medication and school items.
"It was brilliant and that was living," he said.
"Now it has gone back to surviving where you rob Peter to pay Paul.
"One fortnight the electricity gets paid, one fortnight the gas gets paid but no one gets all of their money and they are always hounding like there is no tomorrow. I can't make a stone bleed."
The JobSeeker payment will be $620.80 a fortnight when the already reduced COVID supplement cuts off in April.
People will be able to earn $150 a fortnight without affecting their welfare payments. There will be harsher eligibility rules and a new hotline for bosses to dob in welfare recipients who are offered a job and do not accept.
People on JobSeeker for more than six months will have to work for the dole or engage in an 'intensive training' program of short courses. Welfare recipients will have to attend face-to-face meetings with employment agencies and apply for at least 15 jobs a month.
Mr Malone, 31, is currently studying a Bachelor of Information Technology and caring for his three children.
He has been on welfare payments since the end of 2017 after struggling to maintain employment during a custody battle for his son that was emotionally draining and required a number of court attendances.
Mr Malone said he had applied for hundreds of jobs since and has an email inbox full of rejections.
RELATED COVERAGE: Welfare agencies warn against dropping JobSeeker payment
He said he believed the constant rejections were due to his limited work availability because of study and custody arrangements for his child, his age and the stigma associated with people on welfare payments.
"I have spent four years applying for jobs," Mr Malone said.
"I have had employers tell me they won't employ me because of my custody arrangements. I have got the skills and experience and they are happy with me but because I can't work their full time hours they won't bring me on.
"They also refer to the fact I have been on Centrelink for so long and say they have had other Centrelink people not turn up to work.
"Most nights I will sit here for an hour or so tailoring a CV to apply for several different jobs... It does get exhausting."
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston last week said the government did not want people 'disincentivised to work'.
"As the economy is recovering, as the jobs market is improving, we need to make sure that we have got the right incentives for people to go back to work," she said.
Mr Malone has written a 72 page report about what it is like to live on welfare payments and has sent it to government and advocacy groups.
He wrote: "The current system does not help, it does not support, and it does not empower people to make a life for themselves".
"It only makes life harder resulting in people de-frauding the system, turning to crime, and finding ways to escape reality."
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Mr Malone said living with on the COVID boosted payment of $1000 a fortnight last year meant he was able to better look after himself and his family, placing him in a better position to look for work.
"On the COVID supplement I could afford my meds so my sugars weren't all over the place which meant I was able to drive," he said.
"I have a sleep apnoea machine I have to use as well so I could afford a new mask which means I can keep my licence.
"There is fuel and car maintenance, people don't think of that stuff, but how else are you going to get around. A lot of places want you to have your licence and a reliable car."
Ballarat welfare agencies have long called for an increase of at least $150 a fortnight to the base rate of JobSeeker.
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