As 1pm on Monday approaches, a line starts to develop outside the Ravenswood Neighbourhood House.
A Coles truck with excess vegetables is being unloaded into shopping bags, ready to be distributed as part of the Loaves and Fishes program.
There's enough to fill 26 bags this week. But within 10 minutes, all of the bags have been given out to those waiting in line. People keep arriving, and are able to grab a few essentials from the boxes: onions, corn, potatoes.
Mother-of-three Honor Tomlin manages to get some zucchini, beetroot and capsicum, which she plans to use with chicken nuggets for a few nights to get her family through to the next payment on Thursday.
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On a Carers pension, once she has spent her money on medication costs for the family, bills, food and car expenses, she has $80 left for the fortnight, which she uses for unexpected payments.
"Getting a bit of bread, and the Loaves and Fishes, helps me through the week. It helps me to survive, really," Ms Tomlin said.
"I probably wouldn't eat some meals a day if we didn't have it, I reckon.
"If we have breakfast, it's a bonus."
When asked if the government payment should increase, Ms Tomlin said just $100-a-fortnight extra would be life-changing.
Even though she herself did not receive an increased payment during COVID, aside from the two $750 stimulus payments, she said it was worrying to see JobSeeker planned to be reduced to its pre-COVID level.
"That's just too low for them. $40 a day? How can they live off that?" Ms Tomlin said.
"For me, I live off my credit card. I know I shouldn't, but I have to."
'I've cut my meals right down to scrambled eggs'
Deb Ballenden describes the extra food from Ravenswood Neighbourhood House as a "godsend", making the trip over from her home in Waverley where food choices are limited.
"I don't know what would happen without it," she said.
Also living on a pension, Ms Ballenden has $60-a-fortnight left after paying bills, rent, car and food for her pet dog. If she has to head into town, she tries to line up as many appointments and errands as possible to save on fuel.
Ms Ballenden desperately tries to save some of that leftover money in case she has to travel to the mainland to see her mother who lives in a nursing home.
"I've cut my meals right down to scrambled eggs. That's a meal for me. Soup? That's a meal to try and save enough money," she said.
"I don't have lunch. I have breakfast, and then I have tea. That's it."
Without the pension increasing during COVID, Ms Ballenden was frustrated watching people getting paid additional government payments even if they hadn't lost their jobs.
"I just think, how come I'm meant to just afford it? My next door neighbour on the pension, she can't afford it, she's not working, we're in the same boat. I think, yeah, we should be getting more help," she said.
"The pension should definitely be raised."
A Ravenswood woman, 54, collecting some food, has $50 for petrol left over from her pension payment of about $700-a-fortnight. Of that, $500 goes into renting a three bedroom house for her family.
"When you think about a car, schooling, bills, groceries, it doesn't go far. It doesn't last all the way through to the next payment," she said.
Demand for help is only getting worse: Neighbourhood House
During COVID, Ravenswood Neighbourhood House saw a change in their regular clientele. The increased JobSeeker payment had eased demand for help.
And, according to manager Nettie Burr, people seemed happier.
"They didn't have to work out a choice between having a meal and paying for power, it was really lovely. It also meant we saw an older cohort of people coming through that we could help," she said.
"Now I can see the stress of people coming through. They're worried about what's going to happen into the future."
Job losses during COVID also brought in new faces to the Neighbourhood House.
Ms Burr said the government was wrong if it thought the COVID downturn was finished and things were getting back to normal.
"They allocated all of this extra money to JobKeeper that they didn't use, but now they're saying that they can't put that into JobSeeker," she said.
"Why is that so? Why can't we make sure that people have enough money to get by? Why do we want people to live like this? We're meant to be a kind and humane country, and then we want people to live like paupers.
"We have people in trauma every day, because we put them there, because they don't have enough money. Then we expect them to be in trauma and to go out and get a job. It just doesn't work that way."
'Job creation' the focus for state government as payment reduces
JobSeeker is set to reduce to its pre-COVID Newstart level of $565-a-fortnight from March 31, although last week Prime Minister Scott Morrison said changes to the payment were still being considered.
The pension was unchanged during COVID.
Asked if it was fair for unemployed Tasmanians to face the twin changes of the end of a moratorium on rent increases along with a reduction in JobSeeker, Premier Peter Gutwein said job creation was the focus.
"The key support that we've provided is to have a growing economy firstly to provide jobs," he said.
"Obviously we hope that people on JobSeeker will move into the workforce, and that's obviously a key focus of my government."
Mr Gutwein has previously stated that the increased JobSeeker level could be a deterrent to people looking for a job - a view he reiterated when questioned earlier this month, and pointed to regional and East Coast businesses that had found it "challenging" to get workers.
"One of the key things that you've got to do is ensure that with supports that you provide appropriate supports but also incentives to find a job," he said.
"An unemployment benefit is meant to be a safety net, not a hammock."
Bass Liberal MHR Bridget Archer has repeatedly stated that she would not like to see JobSeeker revert to its pre-COVID level.
At the end of 2020, she said she would continue to argue this to the prime minister and treasurer into 2021.
"There'll be consequences for people. There's consequences for people's lives if we do (reduce the rate)," Ms Archer said.
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