Budget 2010 and a rant about Newstart

On ABC last night a comment was made along the line of this budget targets ‘big targets’, namely big mining, big pharmaceuticals and welfare cheats. Now, making it even harder to get on to the Disability Support Pension does not seem to target welfare cheats.

I know someone who is not on the DSP because it is too hard to qualify. This is a lovely person, but is clearly someone who has faced a lot of challenges in life. I will not go into the particulars, but this person is on Newstart. This person spends a lot of time stressing about getting the forms in on the right dates, especially when he gets letters out of the blue changing the date the forms have to be in. Whenever I see his forms they are covered with dried faeces (not intentionally, and he denies that they are ‘dirty’ and perhaps he should ask for new ones). This person is supposed to find a job, specifically a job in hospitality. The agency he is with seems to be even more disorganised than he is, which he finds stressful but perhaps he is lucky because he has not been cut off for a year or more now.

While I do not meet a full snapshot of people on Newstart, those I do meet who have been on it for any length of time are on it for a reason. Funding various job services must get more kudos for the government than providing struggling individuals with some quality of life. After all, it creates jobs, can produce ‘outcome measures’ and result on glossy photos of people smiling as the lean over a computer.

What happens to those people who do not fit into the ‘early intervention for long term savings’ box? Early intervention is important in employment, mental health and so called ‘lifestyle’ diseases, but does the cost-benefit analysis then mean that the groups about which the government cannot make so many positive claims can be forgotten?

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