My letter to the new Treasurer.
Dear Dr Chalmers,
First of all, congratulations to you on your election win. I hope this spells more compassion from government particularly the Treasurer’s office.
I am writing today to discuss income support and the need to raise Jobseeker as an urgent priority.
I am a person with disabilities and I do alot of advocacy in my communities.
Job creation is not a solution alone, because prople with disabilities face additinal barriers including reasonable acommodations, and protections from discrimination. This leads many in my communities to languish in abject poverty on Jobseeker for many years.
Currently there is a punitive system that worsens their employment outcomes. Every contact with Centrelink has the pontential to cause trauma.
The low rate of jobseeker forces individuals to choose between housing, medicines, basic nutrition, electricity, gas, clothing, transport fares and self care. The maximum rate is $642.70 per fortnight for a single person. For an individual over 60 and on Jobseeker for over 9 months it is $691 per fortnight.
I was on Newstart for approximately 11 years. At the time I had a diagnosis of bipolar and was required to engage with Disability Employment Services that continued to place me under stress that resulted in my bipolar relapsing. I call these the lost years and am now glad I did not commit suicide.
In 2013 I was finally granted the Disability Support Pension that has made an emmence difference to my quality of life . In 2020 I was diagnosed as autistic.
For me living on Newstart as it was called at the time ment living with my parents to survive. They are good and generous people, but there was a financial burden of supporting an adult daughter who could not afford to contribute to household bills and expenses. I am privilaged to be in a position where I had family support, many people on Newstart/Jobseeker do not have that option.
For many living on Jobseeker means being malnutrished as food becomes a lesser priority then rent. It can also involve skipping medications in lue of other expenses. It can make looking professional more difficult as you search second hand charity stores for clothes that are interview suitable. All of these stressors can lead to mental health challenges that then become a barrier to leading a satisfactory life and getting employment.
Many jobseekers have preexisting disabilities and some are psychologically demaged by the issues relating to unemployment.
I believe most people want to work. If there is a small amount of people who lack the motivation to look for work I still believe they deserve a safe home and food as a basic human right in a lucky country like ours.
There is also many economic benefits of raising Jobseeker where it increases money into the community. People are able to consume more products that causes more employment. As treasurer the economic benifits to Australia are innumerable especially as it will take many years for our economy to bounce back. This would be a quick start to improving things for business too as people have more money to spend.
Please raise jobseeker urgently.
Kristy Anne Mounsey
(Address and phone number supplied)