The ACT Council of Social Service is calling on Canberrans to lobby for $75 a week increases to "completely inadequate" government payments, including Newstart and Youth Allowance.
With more than 10,000 people in the territory reliant on the allowances, the council's executive director, Susan Helyar, says the action is well overdue. The rate of Newstart has not been increased in 25 years.
"Despite 70 per cent of the population saying they want the federal government to raise the rate of Newstart, Youth Allowance, Sickness Allowance and other allowances, no action has been taken," Ms Helyar said.
"[We want] to demonstrate to the federal government, other members of parliament and senators that there is widespread community support for this, and it is [really urgent]."
The Raise the Rate Week of Action was being held from Monday July 15 to Sunday July 21, and encouraged locals to contact their federal MP and the territory's senators to call for change.
People could also pledge to meet their senators in person on the campaign's website, and resources were available to assist those who might find it daunting.
"I would say to people who wonder whether this is the right approach that there is good evidence that reducing financial hardship makes a difference to people actually being able to focus on getting a job," Ms Helyar said.
"People [in poverty] spend all their time just dealing with where their next meal is coming from, balancing which bill they're going to pay, and finding access to often very risky credit."
Belconnen resident Connah Brown, who lives with his mother, said the extra $150 a fortnight would mean he would be able to keep food on the table, and look into fixing his faulty vehicle.
The 25-year-old only paid $220 a fortnight in rent, but barely scraped by with his $648 a fortnight combined Newstart allowance and Rent Assistance payment. He had been looking for work for more than a year.
"If I wasn't still living with my parents I would not even be able to afford to live, basically," he said.
"I would be out on the street even with Newstart, simply because there's nowhere in Canberra that has a low enough rent per week that it will cover."
Mr Brown believed his chances at getting a job had been impaired by his financial situation, as he could afford little in terms of dress clothing.
"I've probably lost my chance at a couple of positions simply because I wasn't dressed appropriately," he said.
"[The extra $75 a week would] just ease general financial pressure."
University of Canberra journalism student Claire Walsh, like Mr Brown, said she would be calling local politicians to aid the Raise the Rate campaign, and hopefully her own financial situation.
The 22-year-old, who still lives at home, forks out hundreds of dollars a month to cover medical expenses related to her endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
She had to leave a job of three years on doctor's advice and got a Newstart exemption, but recently took up five hours of work a fortnight at a radio station because it was a great opportunity.
"I see a chiropractor, a physio, a personal trainer, and a psychologist. I see my GP at least once a month, a gynaecologist, and then I've got medications on top of that," Ms Walsh said.
Ms Walsh had been receiving Newstart since February this year at about $600 a fortnight. She expected the allowance would go down slightly with her new work hours.
"I'm really sick of relying on the government and my parents," she said.
"I think that's a really big misconception, that people on Newstart or on any government payment ... don't want to work.
"In reality, it's a lifeline for me."