Contributed from New South Wales
The Australian Council of Social Service has called for an end to media attacks on people who are unemployed and taken a shot against the ‘welfare blowout’ myth and that the unemployed are the cause of it.
Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS, says it is time for the Federal Government to tell the Australian community the real story about social security in Australia and prepare a Federal Budget that genuinely helps lift people out of poverty, rather than disadvantage them even further.
“It is cruel for people affected by unemployment and low incomes to repeatedly wake up to sensational media headlines, which accuses them of being ‘dole bludgers, ‘layabouts’, ‘welfare cheats’ or ‘welfare addicts.” The vast majority of people are doing everything they can to survive and improve their lives under extremely stressful, difficult circumstances.” said Dr Goldie.
“We’re seeing repeated mean-spirited attempts to vilify and demonise people who are locked out of paid work, mostly through no fault of their own.
“This appears to be a deliberate government strategy to pave the way for further budget cuts on the backs of people doing it toughest in our community.
“Why isn’t the Federal Government talking about the real problems facing people who are unemployed, including the lack of employment opportunities and effective support to get paid work, and the alarming rise in long term unemployment post the GFC?
“Right now, there is just one job available for every 10 people who are either locked of employment or need more paid work. Since the Global Financial Crisis, the number of people receiving an unemployment payment climbed from 400,000 to 730,000 (in 2016).
“People affected by the impacts of the GFC, and changes in the economy, are doing it extremely tough. People who are unemployed or underemployed face poverty and desperation. As the Brotherhood of St Laurence said earlier this week, young people are job hunters, not dole bludgers. People receiving income support are parents, carers, people with disabilities, older workers and people of diverse backgrounds, facing major barriers to competing in the open labour market.
“Despite the lack of jobs, governments have relentlessly targeted social security for cuts. Billions have been slashed, including by pushing about 100,000 single parents and people with disability onto the much lower Newstart Allowance.
“At the same time, people on these woefully slow social security payments can’t afford to even house themselves. Last week, Anglicare Australia found that just 21 rental properties were affordable for a single person relying on Newstart and not many more for a single parent.
“The Social Security Snapshot we are releasing today is compulsory reading for anyone who wants to talk about social security spending and policy in Australia. It dispels the great myth that there is anything resembling a ‘welfare blowout’ and that people receiving income support are “welfare addicts.”
“People affected by unemployment and low incomes, now more than ever, need a Federal Government that gives them hope, cares about their wellbeing, and takes seriously the challenges they face.”
Dr. Goldie went on to explain that she has high hopes that one day, the Australian social security system might be more similar to that of the USA model, especially with regards to disability benefits.
To elaborate, in the USA, SSDI is an acronym for Social Security Disability Insurance. SSDI is a program that provides monthly Social Security Disability payments to people under age 65 who have qualifying disabilities and sufficient work credits.
You can learn more about Social Security Disability Law in the USA by heading to the Crest SSD website.
Accordingly, in the absence of a government giving this type of hope, there are now almost 3 million Australians living in poverty, this includes 730,000 children and inequality is the highest it has been since the 1950s.
The tripling of long-term unemployment (70 percent of Newstart recipients have been out of work for more than 12 months) and the availability of only one job for every 10 job seekers shows that this is not the fault of the unemployed, but the state of the economy.
Despite this, actual government spending on the unemployed has remained static, because of the decreasing value of Newstart, which is now well below the poverty line.