Locals who are on unemployment benefits will receive a further $25 a week from April, however Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre manager Shirley Kent said the increase isn't enough for people to live on.
"Any increase is an improvement, but the payment would need to double for people to be able to live and not just exist," she said.
The changes to JobSeeker will see recipients receive less money overall due to the end of the coronavirus supplement top-up payment on March 31.
"We have noticed that during COVID-19, locals have been managing better and using the extra money to pay off bills and stock up on food items," Shirley said.
"But with the JobSeeker payment not being enough to live on, we're going to see more people struggling.
"Medical and dental appointments are pretty much out the window because it's difficult to find a bulk billed appointment and it's impossible to afford on JobSeeker."
Shirley said one of the main areas of concern for the more vulnerable in the community is the price of rent.
"The cheapest rent in our area is $200-$250 a week and that's for a room at a motel or in a boarding house, which leaves people with nothing to live on," she said.
"No rent is affordable in the area and it can leave people struggling to buy food and basic hygiene products.
"We've had people come into the centre that are so excited because we've given them toothpaste and a toothbrush."
Shirley also said there can be a preconception that people receiving the unemployment benefits spend the money on non-essential items.
"There's also a view that people on the payments don't want to work, but that isn't always the case. Many of the jobs in our area are casual and short-term positions which makes it hard for people who are on the payments to hold a long-term position. The amount of available jobs is also pretty dire for our area," she said.
Shirley said the centre has seen an increase in older people finding themselves in a vulnerable situation.
"We're seeing people in their 50s that have found themselves in dire straits because they've lost their job due to COVID and are now struggling to find work."
Shirley also said they are expecting more people to visit the centre for support when the JobKeeper payment ends on March 28.
"We do expect an increase because there will be job losses where employers can't keep people on due to the end of the JobKeeper payment. We expect this will be mainly in the hospitality and food industry."
Changes to the JobSeeker payment also includes more requirements from recipients such as more job searches per month, face-to-face appointments with employment agencies and training after six months on welfare.
There is also an increase in the threshold before the payment starts to decrease when recipients earn money from employment.
The Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre will continue to provide support to locals who are in need and find themselves in a difficult situation.
"Living in poverty is soul destroying and everyone has a right to live with dignity," Shirley said.
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