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One Nation Voters – Hate the Worker. Hate the Poor

abcc-poverty

This is the third article in a series which discusses how the One Nation Party leaders promote themselves compared to who they really are. Through this article I will discuss how One Nation is attacking the worker and the poor.  I am asking One Nation voters to reconsider their vote.

Anecdotally and through observation of social media engagement; One Nation Voters do not represent the elite and wealthy class in Australia. The majority of One Nation voters appear to be either working lower to middle class or recipients of full or part welfare payments.

Other suggestions have been that this party is also the third party choice of ex-Palmer United Party voters.  Voters for Palmer were identified as low socio-economic, suburban and rural voters, low education status, unemployed or working part time.

One Nation has decided to support the ABCC (Australian Building and Construction Commission) and six billion dollars worth of cuts to welfare.

Hate for the Worker

The support for the ABCC will see a return of a star chamber style inquiry for workers who may stop work due to safety breaches (including deaths in the workplace). There is a punitive motive behind this commission.  That is to deter workers from striking. By sending the message that they will may be fined or jailed if they stop work. The Government is protecting the profits of business.

The worker will have less rights than a murderer, rapist or drug dealer. They will not be entitled to a lawyer and they will not have the right to silence. They can go to jail if they refuse to answer questions.

For One Nation voters reading this, is this the type of workplace you want for either yourself, your family, friends or your children?  How will you cope when your seventeen year old apprentice tradie is facing jail time? Facing jail because they chose to stop work because someone died from an incident on site? One Nation supports that the worker should keep working. They support this even if this means the hazard has not been controlled. They support this even if the workers may be in danger.

Here is what your support for this party, along with Coalition voters will bring to workers:

Does One Nation represent their working voters?

I get that there are many people out there who absolutely hate the worker and hate unions. These people normally support the Liberal and National Parties and Family First. I find it difficult to reconcile that One Nation voters would support a bill that endangers the life of workers. Or vote to see them jailed. I find it hard to reconcile that many people in this group fought hard against the VLAD laws under Newman in QLD, and would support a party that takes away the civil rights of the worker.

Abbott and Turnbull have worked their hardest to bash unions and create a lot of distrust. The existence of unions isn’t some fun game where you get to join in to bash unions. Unions have a legitimate purpose in the workplace. One of their key responsibilities is to ensure the employer provides a safe working environment. A safe working environment means you go home the same (or better) than you went to work.

I think there are a lot of people out there who should be standing up and on the side of the worker and unions. However for some reason choose the side of the elite and the wealthy. Why?

You are now a part of this

As a voter of One Nation, I have heard you say time and time again, that you “Stand up for Australians.” Well where is your empathy for working Australians? Where was your outcry the last few weeks when five workers died in construction and transport?  Where is your attack on Pauline Hanson and her ilk? Crickets

Voting isn’t a game. Vote with your heart and your head. The support of this bill will ruin the lives of hard working Australians and you are now a part of that.

The harsh reality that One Nation voters will need to face, along with Liberal and National party voters, is that workers will die because of this bill.

If you voted for One Nation in the faith that they would be good for the “Average Australian” please start taking a lot of notice of what they support in the Senate and reconsider your vote.

Hate for the Poor

The other plan that Pauline Hanson announced that they are supporting, is six billion dollars of cuts to welfare.

In a nutshell, this is taking money away from anyone who receives family payment, all pensioners (including veterans) and families who have just had a baby.  In addition, if you lose your job you will need to wait for four weeks for any unemployment benefit. Some who live week to week will get kicked out of rental accommodation. They will not be able to afford food. They will not be able to even purchase items for hygiene such as soaps, shampoo or women’s sanitary products, which are essential, not a luxury item.

This will increase homelessness, poverty and crime. Having no money for phone or transport will actually make it harder for people to find work. This then makes it easier for the Government to punish people and cut them off unemployment for longer periods.

The original period was six months and Labor, the Greens and Jackie Lambie fought against this and now the Government is ‘compromising’ and have changed it to four weeks.

Here is a video about poverty in Australia. Pauline Hanson thinks that by making poverty worse, it will force people to get a job. You know and I know that, that is a ridiculous way to look at the world. Especially if you have lived it or are living it. Especially when you know that there are 19 jobseekers for every job.

I am absolutely livid. Why aren’t you?

I know people who voted for Hanson, understand what it is like to live week to week. I know they know what a struggle that is. Imagine at the end of that week when you are checking your bank every five minutes – there is another three weeks to go. What would you do?  What is the party you voted for supporting?  I am asking you very sincerely to really think about this. Please put yourself in their shoes, if they are not your own. I am asking you to have empathy for these people and I want to know why you are not angry – because I am livid.

Pauline Hanson is not standing up for Australians. It is time to have a think about whether she is just another politician who has pulled the wool over the eyes of voters. It is time to think about what her real motives are.

I am targeting Pauline Hanson and the One Nation party because they asked genuine good hearted Australians for their vote, on the illusion that her party would help people who are doing it tough. Hanson knows very well, that Australians are passionate about standing up for the battler. She marketed her party to appeal to those emotions.

I know that so many people have lost faith in politics. I know that so many people out there are looking for a third option. Pauline Hanson knows this and this is why she has made a come back. I am angry because she has tricked so many good people and promoted her party based on lies.

Conclusion

Pauline Hanson is an ex-Liberal party member who was sacked from the party because her racism against Aboriginal people and Asian people was so nasty, even the Liberals did not want her.  She has always believed that those who own their own businesses are ‘harder workers’ than the average Australian worker and she has never had time for anyone on welfare.

For those who say that ‘I need to familiarise myself with Hanson’s policies’ she is proving that her policies are not worth the paper they are written on.

A leopard does not change it’s spots and Hanson will not change hers. If you truly voted for this party, not because you agree with her racist beliefs, but you truly believed that she would stand up for the battler and the average Australian. Please take heed of her history and her actions now and reconsider your vote.

Welfare Bashing the NEETS: The new team in the sport of welfare bashing

in-need-or-just-lazy
The acronym NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) is becoming more prevalent with those who enjoy the art of welfare bashing. For those who see themselves as a class above the unemployed, specialised welfare bashing is the new team sport.

Welfare bashing is no longer homogeneous. There are so many individual groups to welfare bash; it has now turned into a team sport. For those who enjoy the sport of welfare bashing, like any sport, it is very important to pick a side. Picking a side ensures the stigmatisation of anyone on welfare is further ingrained in society, because it adds to the generalisation that anyone on welfare is lazy and undeserving. Those who participate in welfare bashing see themselves as part of an elite class; even if they fail to recognise it in themselves.

Let’s have a look at four of the leading Welfare Bashing Teams, currently active in society today.

The Single Mother Welfare Basher

There are those who enjoy the art of welfare bashing the single mother. Gender is important here; because the act of sexual activity of behalf of a woman is still in 2016, considered a slovenly act by so many, particularly if it produces a child out of marriage.

For the women who have been brave enough to leave a domestic violent relationship; this too does not matter. Single Mother Welfare bashing jersey wearers truly believe that women are stupid and should have thought of not having kids if she was with someone violent.

No matter how you plead for leniency and understanding towards single mothers, the loud obnoxious Single Mother welfare bashers all point their fingers at the woman and her vagina as the spawn of all the evil in the world, which takes away their hard earned taxes.

Team Colours: Yellow and Red – (opposites to Purple and Green the power colours for women)

Favourite Stigma Play: Stigmatising mothers who are unable to work due to caring responsibilities as scum and a burden on society

War Cry: Keep your legs crossed!

The Unemployed Youth Welfare Basher

It is important to distinguish the Unemployed Youth Welfare basher as separate from one who welfare bashes all unemployed people. I have come across a significant peculiarity amongst some voices in mature aged welfare. Although these baby boomers are currently unemployed, it is not unusual for people within this group to see their welfare as more deserving than unemployed youth. I have seen some very disheartening comments from people who belong to mature job seeker groups and general welfare groups on social media. Including degrading comments about young single mothers as a particular favourite.

General comments about young people unemployed are normally associated with ‘laziness and bludging’ however conversations around mature aged unemployed are normally blamed on external factors such as ‘ageism and discrimination.’

Young people are seen as desperate to avoid employment and mature aged jobseekers are seen as desperate to find employment.

The media also encourages this separation. For example, A Current Affair appears empathetic to mature aged jobseekers, whilst demonising the rest of the unemployed, including single mothers (with hard hitting investigative stories like “should single mothers be forced to go on contraception?”).

Disparaging media claims about unemployed youth focus on young people rejecting jobs, participating in welfare rorting, ripping off the system, sleeping through interviews, choosing welfare over work and being idle and lazy, playing X-Box and eating Cheetos.

Regardless of how you ask for consideration that there are far more unemployed youth, than there are jobs for them to fill; the unemployed youth basher, will strongly argue that ‘they are not trying hard enough.’ They often compare their 1970’s utopia of going straight from year 10 into an apprenticeship as if that still exists today. They often still believe that free university education exists and that even TAFE is free and completely accessible for all.

Team Colours: Black – (opposite to white for poverty awareness)

Favourite Stigma Play: Stigmatising young unemployed people because the Government is too lazy to engage in job creation policy and laying the burden of this on jobless young people.

War Cry: YA BLUDGER!!!!! TRY HARDER!!!!

The Homeless person Welfare Basher

The homeless person welfare basher is a particular type of sick and cruel person. This type of welfare bashing jersey wearer places all blame on the individual and truly believes homelessness is their own making. They believe that the homeless are truly lazy individuals and do not want to work due to alcohol or drug addiction, or are just destructive young people who could go home if they really wanted to.

Race is also particularly important. Those that done this welfare bashing jersey see if people of colour are homeless; it is simply because their skin colour makes them drug addled, drunk, lazy and homeless, according to the loud mouthed, obnoxious, racist, vile crap that can smack you in the face all over social media.

This group champions official authoritarian responses to further degrade homeless people. The increased ban on homeless people using public restrooms, nail spikes to prevent sleeping in some areas and pop up sprinklers to deter them as well. Income management, especially for indigenous homeless people is a real vote winner for the Homeless Person welfare basher.

This group likes to point out that there are groups that help homeless people, so what is the problem? Some Government Ministers even like to blame the groups they cut funding from for the problem of homelessness; such as Western Australian Minister Liza Harvey who defended the use of sprinklers in Perth:

“The accommodation is there, the support services are there, the not-for-profit groups are there, the money’s flowing into the system. Clearly if there’s homeless people sleeping on King Street, those people aren’t doing their jobs properly.”

No matter how you much you plead for understanding and consideration of factors, which cause homelessness, the homeless person welfare basher will always, insist that all of these measures are avoidable. The ones that are not avoidable, such as mental illness or child sexual abuse, they should ‘just get over’ so they can stop being homeless.

Team Colours: Yellow (opposite to Purple the colour for homelessness)

Favourite Stigma Play: Stigmatising homeless people because they insist homelessness is their choice.

War Cry: Get off the drugs and get a job!!!

And Introducing….The NEET Welfare Basher

NEET hailed from the UK as a young person Not in Employment, Education or Training. The NEET Welfare basher is the hipster of all welfare bashers. They target this niche group of welfare recipients as the most abhorrent and lazy of all welfare recipients. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if the young person is in receipt of benefits; being under 25 they may well be reliant upon their parents for support. As long as the young person is not in school, TAFE, Uni or employed, the finger is extended to frantically point with judgemental criticism and wailing screams of ‘back in my day..’ at the NEET.

The NEET welfare basher is often someone who has had the luxury of getting a job when they were young, through the ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ or the ‘Daddy has rich friends employment scheme’. Or the woman who married someone quite young, who has the income to support both of them, whilst she stays at home and looks after the children.

The NEET welfare basher has had no hindrances to enter into university or has no confidence or financial issues with undertaking study. The NEET welfare basher also falls into the same category as the youth unemployment welfare basher who still lives in the utopia of the 1970s where public sector exams and entrance to the public sector was the norm, or apprenticeships for young men were in abundance, all done by just completing junior high school with a pass average.

The NEET welfare basher feels quite comfortable that they have the undeniable right to judge and stigmatise young people who are not engaged in employment or education, because to them finding a job or going to TAFE all seems so simple.

This type of welfare basher reassures themselves that there is nothing wrong with welfare bashing NEETs, because they believe that this group faces no hardships whatsoever.

They do not see themselves as stigmatising a young person who is the primary carer for a child or a disabled parent; or a young person who is disabled themselves. They just see it as degrading a lazy young person, who deserves it.

The NEET welfare basher can normally clear their conscience by asking a NEET who has been severely depressed due to constant rejection from employment, “RUOK” on that one day of the year. This self-absolves them from being arseholes.

The main factors associated with being a NEET are low level of education, low household income, having some type of disability, immigration background, living in a remote area, and a difficult family environment (Eurofound 2012). In tougher labour markets, the size of the NEET group will increase.

Regardless of how many facts that are presented by journalists who want to present the actual facts about NEETs; the NEET welfare basher reminisces about their youth and when they job hunted and how easy it was for them and waves the facts away with an indignant snarl.

Team Colours: Orange (opposite to Green, the colour for hope)

Favourite Stigma Play: Stigmatising young people who are not engaged in employment or education, because they truly believe after 30 odd years of a punitive jobsearch framework, coupled with the idea that ‘the free market will sort the jobs out’ that hindrances to employment for young people are just a myth.

War Cry: “Back in my day…”

In a country where we consider young people, ‘young’ up to 25 years of age and where the Prime Minister champions the ‘free market’ as the answer to everything, rejects Government intervention for job creation and truly believes that anyone can just go and be innovative and create an App to bring themselves out of poverty and into self-employment; welfare bashing will be an Olympic sport by 2020.

The Taxed Nots. Who are they and what should we do with them?

bludgerWhen the Government chooses not to participate in active job creation, the expectation on people seeking employment to engage in active participation welfare programs, is unfair, burdensome, stigmatising, demoralising and counterproductive.  Mutual Obligation under the Keating Government was developed based on the notion that the Government would also commit to job creation and increase vocational training. This is not the case today, nor has it been for some time.  The Government is not investing in job creation and vocational education has been largely privatised and is predominantly inaccessible and unaffordable to those who most need it.  Active Participation welfare programs are punitive and are underpinned by the assumption that the jobseeker is lazy and needs motivation by a paternalistic guiding hand to participate in society as a full human being. It is time for a new narrative and a new solution.

The latest narrative – The Taxed Nots. Who are they?

They are bludgers, rorters, welfare cheats, the undeserving poor, the drug addled, leaners not lifters, people with their hand out, a hindrance to the ‘national interest’, people who don’t try hard enough, job refusers, taking loans from the tax-payer, won’t get off the couch, lack participation, who go from the school gate to Centrelink’s front door, self-entitled, sitting at home playing X-box and eating cheezels and now the latest….The Taxed Nots.

The Taxed Nots – what should we do with them?

We need to drug test them, force them into unpaid labour, manage their income, give them a card to label them and not trust them with cash, push the welfare cops after them, get them moving, force them to live 45% below the poverty line and if they are poverty line newbie, we should starve them for six months whist the Government simultaneously breaches its human rights obligations. .

With the exception of John Howard’s gem, “the undeserving poor” and Amanda Vanstone’s “Don’t try hard enough and refuse jobs”, these are just some of the labels the Australian Liberal Party has given to those seeking employment and just some of the ‘solutions’ to assist the jobless to find employment, since 2013. Pretty confronting when it is wrapped up in neat little paragraphs, isn’t it?

The dehumanisation and the stigmatisation of those seeking employment must cease immediately and a new narrative and new solutions need to start today.

A little history

Mutual obligation has always existed within the jobseeker framework.  However, mutual obligation penalties were discretionary and mostly non financial (ie write on your dole form where you looked for work this week).  However, postponement of payment could occur for up to two weeks.  This was dropped in 1984 as it was causing hardship, but reinstated in 1987.  The widening of activity based breaches will be discussed in the next section. Active Labor Market Participation (ALMP) programs were the shift towards paternalistic and punitive measures and financial penalties for the unemployed.

Active Labor Market Participation (ALMP) programs commenced under the Hawke/Keating Government. The  original intention of the ALMP programs was to manage retraining and to assist new workers to move across industries in the new globalisation and at a time where long time unemployment was the new reality and had shifted from a long period of relatively low unemployment.

Zigarus ¹ (2004) sums up another driver as, “In essence, this approach holds that the unemployment rate is influenced by how actively the unemployed search for work. The more effort people make to find jobs, and the less choosy they are about what jobs they will take, the lower the overall unemployment.”

Regardless of how well intentioned ALMP programs were when they were introduced, the very essence of these programs are driven by the notion that the unemployed do not have the same desires to achieve a full life as the employed do and they are inherently lazy.   Paternalistic and punitive welfare measures are also the antecedents to enabling the stigmatisation of the unemployed. The era of the ALMP programs were the beginning of segregating the unemployed as separate citizens from those who are employed – the bludgers and the workers. Even within the cohort of the unemployed, the narrative was able to change from discussing welfare as a necessity for those out of work to those who deserved assistance and those who did not.  Those who needed a hand up and those who just wanted a hand out.  This narrative continues today and it has become increasingly more comfortable for politicians to use this stigmatising rhetoric with conviction.

Punitive measures intensified under Howard

The shift in ALMP programs under John Howard introduced the concept that unpaid labour should be imposed on those seeking employment. Howard’s notion was to deserve a hand out, the recipient must give back to the community.  This adds the public’s scrutinisation of the intentions of the jobseeker to the mix.  Work for the Dole and similar unpaid labour programs normalised the perception that jobseekers had to be forced to work, as they were not motivated to do so; and if they were working as unpaid labour, this would be the impetus to force them to look for paid labour.

Financial Penalties under Howard

The Howard Government dismantled Keating’s Working Nation (job creation, increased Labor market programs and training and mutual obligation, including breaching penalties). Financial penalties increased and the activity for which you could be breached significantly widened under the Liberals “Australian’s Working Together” policy.  The other notable shift from Keating’s policy to Howard’s policy was that financial penalties moved from discretionary to enforced by legislation and contractual obligation on the jobsearch provider.

The initial extremely punitive measures are outlined by Eardley et. al ² as:

The initial legislation proposed to strengthen breaching arrangements by extending the activity test non-payment period to six weeks for the first breach and 13 weeks for all subsequent breaches, while all administrative breaches would incur rate reductions of 25 per cent for eight weeks.

Welfare groups successfully lobbied and this initial bill was defeated in Parliament. However, less severe penalties were adopted.  This included an 8 week breach of 100% loss of benefit after the third breach. The Abbott Government put up a bill in 2013 which sought to exempt new Newstart recipients from payment for six months. This has been defeated/taken off the table and a bill for Newstart recipients to be exempt for six weeks, is still progressing though today’s parliament.  This shows the long standing determination of the Liberal Party to impose harsh and extreme measures on the unemployed.  This also shows the shift from welfare as a human right to dignity, to one of targeting the disadvantaged as a means for budget savings.

Other notable changes

Structural changes jobseeker programs to note (but not limited to) are:

  • The inclusion and shift from other benefits to jobseeker associated benefits (Single Parents and Disability recipients shifted to jobsearch programs.)
  • The increase in mutual obligation age brackets from 17-18 years, to 18-30 years to 18-49 years and now 18-60 years and over
  • Intensive case management
  • Enforceable preparing for work agreements
  • Increased obligation to search for more jobs, or a breach is imposed
  • The length of time travelled to search for job, or a breach is imposed
  • Relocation expectation
  • Implementation of Government approved doctors only (not jobseeker’s own doctor)
  • Shift to a jobsearch payment from Disability pension if you can work 30 hours per week down to 15 hours per week
  • Shift from Government provider to private contracted providers
  • Obligation to jobsearch if not employed for more than 70 hours per fortnight  (jobsearch is a requirement although you have gained employment)
  • Income Management (Basic’s Card – non-cash component imposed)

The jobseeker’s positioning in Australia.

The reality for the availability of a jobseeker securing work in Australia, is that there are 19 jobseekers for every job available in Australia (as of May, 2016).  That is however, not a true figure, as it needs to be considered that not all jobseekers are equally qualified for all jobs. Therefore, for some the jobseeker to job vacancy ratio is much higher.  In addition, vocational education and training has become less available and less accessible for those seeking employment; particularly in lower income brackets. Changes to eligibility for vocational training (ie The Certificate 3 Guarantee is for any eligible Queensland resident who does not already hold and is not currently enrolled into, a post-school Certificate III or higher qualification.) Therefore if you hold a cert III in one vocational area, for example beauty, you are not eligible to undertake vocational training at cert 3 level in business administration.

In addition, specialised services such as JPET (Job placement, employment and training for homeless and disadvantaged young people) have ceased and are now replaced with a one-stop-shop model of ‘streams’ of unemployment.

The Liberal Party’s small government, free market mindset, is an inherent propensity to shy away from job creation and allow the free market to ‘sort out the jobs’, rather than the socialisation of job creation projects.  Government’s who do not commit to job creation are not complying with their mutual obligation to the nation’s unemployed citizens.  The onus is completely on the jobseeker and the framework within the jobseeker must search for jobs, is unrealistic; secure full time jobs and skills development get increasingly more difficult to obtain.

It should also be noted that barriers to employment and the adverse outcomes of financial and other punitive measures are more severe for (but not limited to); Indigenous Australians, single parents, jobseekers with a disability, youth and homeless and disadvantaged jobseekers.

The new narrative and the new solutions

To achieve the re-humanisation and the de-stigmatisation of those seeking employment; the jobsearch model must shift to a jobseeker-centric framework and away from a budget savings measures framework where jobseekers are currently seen as a strain on the public purse and a dehumanised as a target for savings measures.

Therefore, the jobsearch framework needs to shift from one of mandatory participation to one of voluntary participation.

Jobseekers need to be allowed free agency to participate freely in jobsearch activities.  To do this, the narrative needs to shift from the stigmatising rhetoric outlined in the beginning of this article to a more supportive narrative. Jobseekers should be given the support and recognition by Government that they have the same hopes, dreams and aims as the employed and are actively participating in job search to improve their life circumstance.

This then shifts the narrative away from the current underpinning assumption that jobseekers need a paternalistic guiding hand to motivate them; to a narrative that has the underpinning assumption that jobseekers are intrinsically motivated to seek employment.

This then shifts the onus for outcomes from the jobseeker and the public expectation to punish them for non-achievement to the public expectation that the Government of the day has an obligation to perform and enable an environment conducive to an expectation that secure employment can be achieved.

This should put pressure on the Government of the day to engage fully in job creation projects and the public less likely to accept the promises of a free market, small Government intervention model.  This means that there would be an increase in the expectation that the Government would create jobs where it had the power to do so.  This may include Government intervention to increase positions in all Government owned, operated and funded entities at local, state and federal level.  This may also include Government intervention to make mandatory the requirement for quotas within Government funded infrastructure projects to achieve targets of employing those who are employed and underemployed.

This should also put pressure on the Government to ensure they meet the obligation of providing skills development opportunities for those seeking employment. This may mean the implementation of yearly quotas of trainees and apprentices for all Government owned and funded organisations.  This would also place pressure on the Government to provide affordable access to TAFE and other training for all jobseekers, both under employed and unemployed.

In regional and rural areas where there is a higher concentration of unemployment; this should also put pressure on the Government to decentralise the public sector at state and federal level. In addition, pressure should be placed on the Government to provide attractive incentives for SME’s and large corporations to invest in relocations or start ups in regional and rural areas.

Government change to enhance the current model would also require the adoption of a basic wage, which will shift the public perception of one that jobseekers are welfare dependent, to a perception of a human right to a basic wage for all citizens.  This will also enable the underemployed to be as competitive for jobs as the unemployed.  Currently some incentives favour only the long term unemployed and lock the under employed out of the labour market.   Punitive measures such as income management (basic card) and financial penalties would not longer need to exist.

The most critical shift that needs to occur is for citizens to reject the stigmatising narrative that currently exists around those seeking employment today, as this narrative is the antecedent for the entire burden of secure employment to fall on the jobseeker, rather than the onus of providing citizens with full, secure employment on the Government.

All of the above can be achieved and it can start with a rejection of the current dehumanising and stigmatising narrative surrounding jobseekers; and it should start with all of us today.

“Stigma is a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity.”
―Erving Goffman

 

1 Ziguras, Stephen (2004) “Australian Social Security Policy and Job-Seekers’ Motivation,” Journal of Economic and Social Policy: Vol. 9: No. 1, pp 1-24

Tony Eardley, Jude Brown, Margot Rawsthorne, Kate Norris, Liz Emrys, 2005, The impact of breaching on income support customers, Social Policy Research Centre (UNSW)

If Malcolm was a homeless youth

homelessness couchThe news reader triumphantly announced with over-enthusiasm the other day that our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy had spent $130,000 of their own money to refurbish the Lodge.  I think this was supposed to impress me, the listener and for some reason I should feel buoyed by this news. However, I just made an instinctive ‘I’m gagging face” and kept on peeling the potatoes.

This made me aware of a few things. Firstly, how my body and face reacts and contorts subconsciously when our self-appointed, undemocratically elected leader speaks or if someone is praising him.

However, on a more serious note, this made me aware that Malcolm and Lucy were so comfortable and self-assured that they would be living at the Lodge for a long time; that they had no problem spending their own money on it.  They must feel quite safe and secure.

If Malcolm Turnbull was a homeless youth, safety and security would be the two things he either remembered and longed for to feel again or tragically had not yet experienced.  Wednesday, 13th April is National Youth Homelessness Matters Day. Today, I take a crystal ball view at the tautological, verbose, pontificated lectures Malcolm Turnbull would bestow upon us, if he was, (by way of innovative technology of course), somehow transformed into a homeless youth.

Housing Affordability and Availability

If Turnbull was a homeless youth, he would stand in the town square and provide us with a lengthy lecture on the gross unavailability of housing for low and middle-income earners in Australia. He would close his fist and jut out his chin and use marvellous adjectives to describe the abhorrence of under-funding and cuts to youth and community accommodation services. Cuts that mean the difference between support and safety or homelessness and fear.  He would speak of the absolute “criminal act” of negative gearing that gives tax dollars to people who own three or four or even fifty houses, when that money could be used to sustain a ‘viable and sustainable safe society for those who are homeless.’ He would tell us that, ‘as Australians we have no better duty than to stamp out homelessness.’  He would not grow up to be a Prime Minister who uses empty words and takes no real action. He would not grow up to be a leader who protects the rich and speaks of the poor as ‘others.’

As an outspoken young man with a love for politics, he would convey his heartfelt emotion that politics changes lives. He would stand upright and close his eyes as if to convey some magical transfer of emotional contagion and encourage people with all of his might and say  “Youth Homelessness matters so put the Liberals Last.

A Gonski Education

When Turnbull is happy he makes sure he is seen everywhere. On trams, trains, taking selfies in the street. When things don’t seem to be going too great for Turnbull, he skulks off without speaking to the media, head down hurrying the treasurer along into a waiting vehicle. He wants to be invisible at that point in time.

For some homeless kids, their homelessness is invisible. Some are not living rough on the streets, but possibly couch surfing with friends, relatives or sometimes complete strangers. Some have escaped domestic violence and may still be with a parent or siblings or they may have escaped sexual abuse and are alone and sometimes even ostracised or abandoned by family, just for being a victim.  Regardless of the circumstance, regular everyday kids can fall into homelessness quickly and some still try to maintain the normality of attending school. They still desire and deserve an education.

If Malcolm Turnbull was a homeless youth, he would be one of over the 20,000 plus young people of high school age who have no security, safety or privacy of their own home. Malcolm, not shy of the spotlight would stand up and argue that schools need more funding for specialists teachers and resources for children who may fall behind due to circumstances beyond their control. He would argue forcefully that he and others like him, ‘did not ask for this.’  He would advocate with great passion that we need to fund schools so every child is equal. He would tell us that, “We must recognise that our youth are our leaders of tomorrow and all children….. OUR children deserve an education.”

He would indeed give a Gonski. He would not grow up to be a Prime Minister who does not believe that education is for all. He would not grow up to be a leader with strong arguments to fund public schools and leave the public schools to the inequitable system of taxpayer dollars in each state. He would not grow up to the Prime Minister who disrespected and flipped off funding the most thorough review of education as “The full Gonski – Whatever that means.”

As an outspoken young man with a love for politics, he would convey his heartfelt emotion that politics changes lives. He would stand upright and close his eyes as if to convey some magical transfer of emotional contagion and encourage people with all of his might and say  “Youth Homelessness matters so put the Liberals Last.

Navigating Welfare and Income Management

Our Prime Minister is well known for his wealth. He has an enormous fortune and monetary wealth that most people cannot even comprehend (including me!). He defended his ‘freedom’ to use offshore banking in the Cayman Islands, claiming he has not broken the law. Luckily for Malcolm our laws protect the wealthy. These types of laws are protected and fought against from change by wealthy Australians. However, if there are laws to manage, control and stigmatise the poor and homeless, they are broadcasted with confidence and aplomb and the public are reassured how much these types of laws are needed to protect us from those who are unfortunate enough not to have a job.

However, if there are laws to manage, control and stigmatise the poor and homeless, they are broadcasted with aplomb and the public are reassured that these types of laws are needed to protect us from those who are unfortunate enough not to have a job. The protection of taxpayer dollars from the unemployed who live below the poverty line is paramount.

For some homeless youth, this is their world. A navigation of a welfare system where they are managed as a number, with no real practical assistance, punished by the implementation of punitive measures such cutting benefits and having their money controlled, monitored and restricted by the use of the Basics Card or the ‘Healthy Welfare Card’ if they are unfortunate enough to live in one of the listed areas.  The agenda of stigmatisation is underpinned by legislation and the culture of stigmatisation is enabled by politicians and the mainstream media, through the use of negative labels such as ‘bludgers’ and ‘welfare cheats.’

For some homeless youth, they are living in share accommodation with others and need income to pay for the necessities as food, clothing and shelter, electricity, transport and communication such as phone or the internet.

Many homeless youths desperately want employment to improve their circumstances. Some cannot manage employment, due to circumstances beyond their control. But yet, are still judged and still punished by the system.  Homeless youth face incredible barriers to employment, many which are hidden barriers to employment. If they find work, they are most generally amongst the working poor. Many have significant barriers preventing them from seeking work, gaining work. Even if they have work, they are prevented from sometimes taking shifts, particularly in regional and rural areas with limited public transport. They are often under agreements that have low wages or have penalty rates taken away. Some agreements are still under the Work Choices legislation.

If Malcolm Turnbull was a homeless youth, he would speak out against the stigmatisation and hindrances of the current welfare and job seeker assistance systems. He would passionately argue how demeaning stigmatising language is used by the media and some politicians. He would say that ‘cultural change against stigma for homeless youth, begins with our narrative.’ He would remind us of our responsibilities as citizens. He would demand action for practical solutions to assist those seeking employment. He would demand an end of income management and an end to punitive measures. He would twirl his glasses and deeply furrow his brow and speak of the untapped potential there is amongst homeless youth, if only they were given a chance.

He would not grow up to be a Prime Minister that whole heartedly supports every measure of a punitive, and stigmatising budget of his predecessor. He would march in the streets to save penalty rates. He would not grow up to be the great pretender who is now in a complete state of discombobulation because he used to say one thing and now does another. 

As an outspoken young man with a love for politics, he would convey his heartfelt emotion that politics changes lives. He would stand upright and close his eyes as if to convey some magical transfer of emotional contagion and encourage people with all of his might and say  “Youth Homelessness matters so put the Liberals Last.

Some of you may wonder why this blog post about homelessness has a political angle. Through my eyes, politics changes lives.  A cure for homelessness is not as simple as joining a protest, or sharing a meme or making a donation. All of those things are important, but the relief comes when the public push for change politically.  The relief comes when supportive and progressive decisions are made and implemented.

To me, the political parties and leaders we democratically choose to lead us, are our responsibility and we must, we simply must stop and think of the consequences of that vote. We simply must become more aware, more engaged and more involved in political parties or support independent candidates, wherever our persuasion lies. These elected representatives are the voices we choose to speak for us and for those we speak up for because they can’t. The wrong party, the wrong leader and the wrong decisions have dire consequences for individuals, communities and our nation. Jack Layton (Canadian New Democratic Party) sums it up as:

politics matters

Take Action Today for Youth Homelessness

and always – Put the Liberals and Nationals LAST.

 

 

 

 

Trish Corry

trishcorry

trishcorry

I love to discuss Australian Politics. My key areas of interest are Welfare, Disadvantage, emotions in the workplace, organisational behaviour, stigma, leadership, women, unionism. I am pro-worker and anti-conservativism/Liberalism. I am a proud member of the Australian Labor Party and you will find my blog posts written from a Laborist / Progressive Slant.

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