When 62-year-old Ricci Bartels asked her question on QandA last night it left the politicians scratching their heads.
Ms Bartels wanted to know how she, at 62, was expected to survive in Newstart having been made redundant three years ago, after working steadily for 46 years.
Being pre-retirement the, somewhat liveable, old-age pension isn’t an option for her. So Newstart is her only option for government assistance.
The problem is our government frames Newstart recipients as 20-somethings laying around on their parents lounge watching daytime TV instead of looking for work, being “dole-bludgers” as the rhetoric goes.
It’s a form of propaganda to turn those working against those unable to find work.
Perhaps it’s because a large percentage of people don’t like what the do for a living that it’s so easy to sell the narrative these people on Newstart are “living the life” while you’re slaving away. Seems, particularly during the summer months the imagery accompanying these stories includes some kind of beach scene, showing people laying around on the sand in the sun.
I’ve received Newstart… one single part-payment when I was 18. I left my job in the local New Zealand Natural Ice Cream shop, and Penrith and moved to Coffs Harbour. I was lucky my boss at the time “fired” me so I could qualify for payments immediately. I was also lucky that being young I walked into a job in Coffs Harbour at Igloo Deli… with the two-three weeks in between when my employment ended, I applied, and was given details of a payment I got a new job.
My Newstart was at risk because I moved from a metropolitan area like Penrith to Coffs Harbour a regional town, something that is highly discouraged when you’re unemployed. Though moving to a regional town to get a job is highly encouraged and somewhat expected, even though you’d likely have to move away from your support system of family and friends.
The next time I looked into getting Newstart was when I was made redundant from Murdoch Magazines when they sold to Channel 7. But Newstart was a no-go for me. At this time I owned property and had my redundancy payment sitting in my bank account, so I would have been ineligible. Further, the form that was about 4 pages when I was 18 had somehow grown to a small book of 20+ pages of information that was required. The process was hard.
Again, thankfully I was employable, have a partner that was still employed and had that redundancy payment to live off. I found a job after moving to Victoria so it was all good.
But that isn’t likely always going to be the case. The industry I work in will likely be phased out in the next 20 years as computers take over. So there will more than likely be a gap between when I no longer have a job and retirement age, especially as the government keeps raising the age of retirement.
I could keep writing, but this is going on far too long, and I have actual work to do. But I really wanted to post to say that constant vilification of these people is tiresome and worrying.
Scott Morrison’s “Hand up, not handout” is divisive and destructive to our society. People are people, they deserve respect and dignity, and if our government can’t supply that, we need a new government.