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Covid-19 Australia: Melbourne mum tells of struggle to get by after losing job during lockdown

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Mum of two reveals her struggle to make ends meet after losing her job during Victoria’s coronavirus lockdown – as she pleads for changes to disaster payment eligibility rules

  • Young mother-of-two who lost her job during Covid lockdown is barely surviving
  • Melbourne-based beauty therapist Emma Pucci normally works 30 hours a week
  • Non-essential Victorian businesses including beauty salons closed in lockdown
  • Ms Pucci said she is not eligible for $600 federal government disaster payment

A young mother-of-two who lost her job during Australia’s latest wave of coronavirus lockdowns says she is barely surviving on welfare after finding out she is ineligible for government disaster payments.

Melbourne mum Emma Pucci normally works 30 hours a week as a beauty therapist to provide for her and her two young daughters.

Now all she has is $310-a-week JobSeeker payments after Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday closed all non-essential Victorian businesses – including beauty salons – to stem an outbreak of the Delta Covid-19 variant.

Ms Pucci said she was not yet eligible for the $600 federal government disaster payment despite losing her income when the restrictions came into place. 

Victorian residents can only receive the payment if they have lost 20 hours of work a week. 

The payment also will not kick in until the state’s lockdown enters a fourth week.

Shoppers walk through closed market sheds at Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market on July 17. Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday sent Victoria into a strict lockdown to stem the spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant

Shoppers walk through closed market sheds at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market on July 17. Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday sent Victoria into a strict lockdown to stem the spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant

Victorians have to wait until Friday to apply for lockdown support despite Mr Andrews on Tuesday extending his state’s restrictions for another week.

NSW residents can already apply through MyGov for the lump sum $600 disaster payment.

‘I need the government to support me. I’m locked down and I can’t work,’ she told the Today show.

‘They have taken away my ability to earn an income. We’re doing the right thing by staying inside doing our part, but we need some support to do that.

‘I’m scared, worried, and frustrated I can’t get the $600 Covid relief payment everybody else can get.’ 

Australians out of work due to coronavirus restrictions are also no longer eligible for JobKeeper payments after the wage subsidy scheme expired in March.

‘I’m constantly wondering how I am going to manage this and why we’re not getting any help from the government,’ Ms Pucci said. ‘How am I going to get through?

‘Please, consider changing the eligibility criteria [for the disaster payment]. And don’t forget about us. Don’t push us to the side but please help us.’

Young mother-of-two Emma Pucci pictured with her two daughters. She normally works 30 hours a week as a beauty therapist but has lost her income during Victoria's latest coronavirus lockdown

Young mother-of-two Emma Pucci pictured with her two daughters. She normally works 30 hours a week as a beauty therapist but has lost her income during Victoria’s latest coronavirus lockdown

Pictured: Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Victorian residents have to wait until Friday to apply for federal lockdown support in the form of $600 disaster payments

Pictured: Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Victorian residents have to wait until Friday to apply for federal lockdown support in the form of $600 disaster payments

Victoria’s lockdown was extended for a week on Tuesday after the state recorded another 13 new infections. This was followed by another 22 on Wednesday.

Among the venues in Victoria exposed to the virus include a warehouse, a popular Aldi and a busy coffee shop.

The BR International Logistics warehouse in Derrimut in Melbourne’s west is believed to have been exposed by an infected resident all day for a week. 

Those who attended the venue anytime from July 13 to July 19 must isolate for 14 days from the day they were exposed, regardless of a Covid-19 test result.

Pop-up cafe and arts store Status Quo Pop-up in Richmond was exposed by an infected resident over four days between July 14 and July 17. 

What are the main financial supports available in lockdown? 

Workers 

Residents in a Commonwealth-defined hotspot who lose 20 hours a week can claim $600 and those who lose between eight and 20 hours can claim $375.   

* States may fund any payments outside a Commonwealth declared hotspot, with the Commonwealth continuing to fund payments to recipients in a Commonwealth declared hotspot.

For more information: Services Australia

Business 

* A new business support payment will also be available to entities with an annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million who can demonstrate a 30 per cent decline in turnover.

* To receive the payment, eligible entities will be required to maintain their full time, part time and long term casual staffing level as of July 13.

* Eligible entities, which includes not-for-profits, will receive payments of between $1500 and $10,000 per week based on the level of their payroll.

* For non-employing businesses, such as sole traders, the payment will be set at $1,000 per week.

For more information in NSW: Service NSW 

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