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Welfare

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More Lies From The Greens – Newstart

the Greens

Another round of lies from the Greens is making its way around social media and very vulnerable people on Social Security are very, very angry – at Labor.  If you are a vulnerable Australian on welfare listening to the Greens, let me say this to you; Labor is not anti-welfare and Labor is fighting very hard for equality.  What the Greens are fighting hard for is putting up bills they know will fail on a technicality. They then work hard to take the moral high ground to upset you, all for the sole aim of creating a deep dark pit of hatred toward Labor by you, the voter. They do this in the hope you will see the Greens as the only party who cares.  In short, it is pathetic Trump Style politics.

One thing Senator Doug Cameron is, is he is a good man. He has spent his entire life fighting for the working class and the disadvantaged and that cannot be disputed.  I have cut and paste Senator Cameron’s response to the Greens amendment in the Senate to raise Newstart by $110 per fortnight.

It is time the Greens stopped playing pathetic games with the emotions of vulnerable people. It is sick! The incessant attacks on Labor are questionable. They may as well stick a Turnbull corflute in their front yards!

Greens' Lies On Newstart (1)

Senator Cameron (Labor) Response

Senate Hansard 10 August 2017 p. 76-78

(For those who do not want to read all of Senator Cameron’s response which is over 2,000 words, I have highlighted the relevant parts in Red. I have quoted and highlighted the trickery of the Greens in  – well Green!)

Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (16:59): I am quite amazed by that speech by Senator Fierravanti-Wells. In speaking on the Social Security Amendment (Caring for People on Newstart) Bill 2017, I want to try and correct some of the statements that have been made.

Let me go to the Greens first. The Greens indicated they are the only party calling for an increase in Newstart. Labor has acknowledged that Newstart is too low. The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has said on a number of occasions in recent years that it is too low. Labor acknowledges that too many Australians are living in poverty.

 It was Labor that defended young, unemployed Australians when the Abbott-Turnbull government wanted to make young people wait six months to access Newstart.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells said, ‘Don’t add fuel to the fire.’ There’ll be plenty of people on Newstart who won’t have any fuel—whether it’s electricity or gas—to actually keep themselves warm. Senator Fierravanti-Wells says it would cost an extra $2 billion per annum to increase the Newstart allowance to the allowance that’s been proposed by the Greens in this bill. How ridiculous is it that we have a coalition that want to hand $65 billion in tax cuts to the big end of town, and yet they stand here and argue that they can’t look after people on Newstart? They are a party that wants to look after big business but ignore people who are doing it tough. We’ve seen them: they’re all about the vilification and demonisation of people who are down on their luck and relying on Newstart. This argument of, ‘You’ve just got to get a job and everything will be okay,’ I suppose, is alright if you live on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, the eastern suburbs or the wealthier areas of Australia where you don’t actually have to see much unemployment.

But what the coalition needs to understand—and they obviously don’t—is that there are 189,200 jobs available within Australia. There are 726,800 unemployed in Australia. So it’s not as if you can just get your gear on in the morning, lob out there and find a job. You never hear the coalition talking about that figure. It’s not easy to get a job in some areas, and it’s impossible to find a job in other areas. I notice that we’re going to have coalition people speak to this later, and we have two National Party members in the chamber now. If you look at the National Party seats, they’ve got some of the highest unemployment in Australia. Senator Williams would know it’s not that easy to go out and actually find a job in some areas in National Party electorates.

In National Party seats, unemployment has risen by 1.3 per cent on average since the coalition came to power. Since September 2013, unemployment has risen by 1.3 per cent on average in National Party seats. What a great example of how the National Party come here and suck up to that nonsense that we just heard from Senator Fierravanti-Wells, but are out there presiding over some of the highest unemployment in the country. It just beggars belief. All they want to do is vilify the unemployed, vilify those that are down on their luck. Look at what the government did when they first came to power.

They wanted to make young Australians wait six months to access Newstart. What would that do to young people in National Party seats where there were no jobs? They would either have to have rich parents or be part of the rural hoi polloi, or they would be left starving. It’s an absolute disgrace the way the National Party and the Liberal Party have dealt with unemployment and social security benefits over the last period of time. They wanted to abandon young jobseekers for six months. Starve! That was their approach, and Labor defeated that. After we defeated it, the Liberals tried to make young people wait five weeks before being able to access income support.

Remember the argument that was put forward by Senator Fierravanti-Wells: ‘Just go out and get a job. That’s the best inoculation from welfare. Just get a job.’ Well, I repeat again: there are 189,200 jobs available in Australia, and there are 726,800 unemployed. Many of those unemployed would not have the skills, the training or the capacity or live in the region where these jobs are, so it becomes really, really difficult. Senator Fierravanti-Wells ran the same nonsense that ‘Labor squandered money when they were in government’. What Labor did was to implement one of the most effective—if not the most effective—approaches to dealing with the global financial crisis that we had, and we kept jobs being created around the country. That’s what Labor did because we understood that, if jobs were lost, then intergenerational unemployment would increase. So we spent money on keeping people in jobs—in National Party seats around the country. Not only were individuals looked after by Labor, but communities were looked after and families were looked after. They had jobs when workers around the world were being thrown on the scrap heap.

But those opposite seem to forget that there was a global financial crisis. They forget that, just as they don’t have any idea or don’t want to recognise that there is global warming and a real problem for the future. They don’t want to recognise that they don’t have the policies and they don’t have the cohesion internally to actually deal with any of the problems that are facing Australians around this country.

So Labor defeated those cuts that were put there. We defeated the unfair Liberal and National Party cuts to paid parental leave. We defeated the Liberal and National Party unfair cuts to pension indexation. This is the mob that wanted to cut the pensions of Australians. That’s what they wanted to do, and it was only Labor standing against it that stopped that. We defeated the Liberals’ unfair GP tax that would have undermined Medicare as our universal health system. We defeated the Liberals and Nationals’ unfair cuts to young people that would have seen thousands of young Australians shifted from Newstart onto the lower youth allowance payment. We have consistently stood up for vulnerable Australians against this government’s unfair cuts.

I just find it beggaring belief that the National Party, who represent the victims of the Liberal Party’s ideology, come in here and vote with them to cut the social security payments for their constituents in their seats around the country when there are not the jobs available in National Party seats around the country. The National Party are an absolute disgrace. They just hang off the coat-tails of the Liberal Party, and then they try and run the Liberal Party when it comes to some ideological approach that they want to push. They are an absolute disgrace.

We have led the debate in this country on inequality. Bill Shorten, Wayne Swan, Jenny Macklin and Andrew Leigh have all been doing important policy work on the issue of inequality. Inequality isn’t just the gap between the rich and poor; it’s about the millionaires getting tax cuts under this government and large multinationals getting $65 billion in giveaways, while millions of Australians have had no wage rise for years. It’s about inequality in the housing market because first home buyers are lining up against property investors who have been subsidised by unfair and distortionary policies like negative gearing.

It’s about the gender gap in the pay that men and women in this country receive and the unfair deal that women are getting. It’s about the gap between Indigenous Australians and the unfair outcomes they’re getting in health, education and housing. And any conversation about inequality also has to focus on poverty. We know that Newstart is too low. We know that too many Australians are living below the poverty line.

As last year’s Growing together, Labor’s agenda for tackling inequality, document stated: The net replacement rate for the Newstart payment for a single person is equivalent to just 28 per cent of the average wage. That compares with an average of 47 per cent in other major English-speaking nations, such as Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. While the mechanisms for supporting the unemployed differ in each of these countries, there is no denying that income support for unemployed Australians is very low by international standards. We are doing the policy work.

That’s why at the last election Labor said that we’d establish a review into the adequacy of the Newstart allowance for people of working age and their place in the wider system of working age payments and employment supports. We won’t be coming here when there’s not enough jobs for every Australian that’s looking for them and tell them, ‘The best thing you can do is get out and find a job.’

It’s an absolute lie, perpetrated by the extremists in the Liberal and National parties who are presiding over some of the lowest paid in their electorates, and some of the worst unemployment and some of the worst housing conditions in the country. So much for the National Party and so much for the Liberal Party!

We’ve have said that, when we do the review, we’ll look at the adequacy of the base rate of Newstart to meet what is widely understood to be the essential living costs required to achieve a reasonable minimum standard of living. We will look at the adequacy of the current indexation of allowance payments in the context of indexation arrangements across the social security system.

We’ll look at the role of the Newstart allowance and other working age payments in promoting and supporting workforce participation, including through smooth transitions to paid employment, help with the cost of job search, training and employment. Labor wants a comprehensive and independent review into the adequacy of Newstart that we think should be done against two primary objectives: one, alleviating poverty and, two, encouraging work.

We also believe that the review should consider the adequacy of Newstart for people raising families, particularly single parents.

I’d dearly love to see an increase to Newstart, but this bill isn’t the right way of going about it.

Let’s be clear: it’s a stunt by the Greens political party. It’s symbolic. It won’t pass the parliament. The Greens know that this would never get through the House of Representatives. The Greens know that the appropriations bills in the House have to be introduced by a minister. Yet they introduce this bill in the Senate and give so many Australians false hope that Newstart might be increased—and it’s all for their own political purposes. (Senator Doug Cameron 10.08.2017)

 It’s worth noting that this bill has come on for debate on the same day it was introduced into the Senate. It’s not a fair dinkum proposal and the Greens know it. They haven’t done the proper policy work. They haven’t done the hard work of policy development that you need to make this kind of change. They haven’t even discussed it with the opposition before springing it on us today.

Unlike the Greens party, the opposition requires proposals to be properly developed, costed and considered before we can support them.

The truth is, if you want to see an increase to Newstart, you have to change the government in Canberra. You have to vote out the Liberals, because they will never help the vulnerable.* They’ve never helped the unemployed. The last time there was a significant increase to social security payments, it was done by a Labor government.

(*That means voting for Labor, the only party that can remove the Liberals and actually Govern to enact change – Trish)

In 2009 it was Labor that increased the age pension and the disability support pension by $30 a week—the largest increase to the pension in its history. And you know how that came about? The newly elected Labor government commissioned the Harmer review into the adequacy of the pension.

A proper policy process was undertaken, there was consultation with key stakeholders, and we increased the age pension and DSP. It was announced in the budget and paid for in the budget. The pension was increased by $30 a week and, as a result, one million Australians were lifted out of poverty. That’s how you bring about change.

That’s how you lift people out of poverty. It didn’t happen because of a stunt in the Senate from a minor party like the Greens. It happened because a Labor government was in office and able to bring about change. Labor can actually bring about change, not just talk about it like the Greens.

End.

 

House Music: Income Management QLD

community affairs committee

Income Management is a hot topic of concern. This week, in “House Music” I discuss Income Management and the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs. I will also discuss the FRC in Cape York. The FRC is the Families Responsibilities Commission. This commission has input into income management restrictions in their community.

House Music is a weekly blog where I discuss various Bills, Committees, Petitions and try to raise awareness of the valuable resources on the APH website.  

Income Management Bill (QLD Commission)

The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs considered the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Queensland Commission Income Management Regime) Bill 2017. This Bill passed through both houses on 26th June 2017.

This Bill amends the Social Security Act (1999) and it includes an extension to income management in Cape York, Queensland until 30 June 2019. Cape York communities are participants in the Cape York welfare Reforms.

Cape York Income Management Communities

The communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge are the original participating communities from 2007. The community of Doomadgee was added in 2015.

This Bill enables Family Responsibilities Commissions (FRC) to make a determination regarding income management for individuals in their community.

Cape York Welfare Reforms

Cape York Welfare Reform

Cape York Partnership Empowering Families

The Cape York Welfare Reforms initially commenced in 2007 through the Cape York Institute’s federally funded project headed by Noel Pearson.  This legislated reform commenced in 2008, once Pearson secured Government support. Therefore, this reform had tripartite support between Cape York Institute, QLD Labor Bligh Government with the support of the Rudd Labor Federal Government.

In addition, the outgoing Howard Government was very supportive of this project. The Howard Government funded the initial trial project, including funding for additional housing.

Four communities partnered with the Cape York Institute and the Queensland and Federal Governments in a Welfare Reform Partnership.

The main aim of this reform is to enable people in these communities to have empowerment and personal agency. Primarily, the aim is to achieve this through Indigenous authority, developing a culture of social norms and positive behaviour and improvements in living conditions.

A theme I discuss often is the negative narrative of the Government and their labelling of people on welfare.  The Cape York Partnership sums up powerful decision makers as they negatively describe those on welfare as ‘bludgers.’

This mentality is also shared by bureaucracy that sees people on the ground as incapable. Instead of simply providing resources and facilitating decision-making and action at the ground level, it hoards power and responsibility.

However, I personally do not agree with the term ‘passive welfare’ which the Cape York Institute uses in their final report. It is my view that welfare dependency is not about passivity because welfare is within a system of power which disables empowerment, agency and personal power.

A Different Type of Income Management

The theme of community driven self-empowerment is evident in the FRC reports.

A number of reports have been issued since 2011 about the progress of the reforms, including an ABC Four Corners documentary.  Moreover, the contrast of comments in the 2011 report to the current FRC reports, shows that years later, more of the community members are on board than at the time of implementation. In addition, a key theme in the 2011 consultations was that this needed to be a long term approach. ‘Things won’t happen overnight’.

Chris logan.JPG

“It is great for us to finally have income management in Doomadgee. We have issued 28 conditional income management orders to our clients and they have been well received.

and.. We know that income management is a necessary tool to see our community grow and we look forward to seeing the positive results it has for our clients.

We know we have many challenges ahead, but our team is strong and we will continue to work together to improve the lives of and prospects for the children of Doomadgee.”
Doomadgee Commissioner Christopher Logan

Family Responsibilities Commission

The Family Responsibilities Commission is a Statutory Authority under the Family Responsibilities Act 2008 (QLD). Respected leaders or Elders within the community make up the FRC. Importantly, the FRC has consultations or conference with community members to reinforce positive social norms.

The aims of the FRC are:

FRC objectives

The FRC receive notices from various departments about a breach of community standards, i.e. a child not attending school.

Decisions made at the conference are made fairly and with the best interests of the client and their family in mind. At the conclusion of the conference, Commissioners may decide that no action is necessary, reprimand the client, encourage the client to enter into a Family Responsibilities Agreement (FRA), direct the client to relevant community support services or place the client on a Conditional Income Management (CIM) order.

The key difference between this Income Management Program and the blanket roll out of income management that is being discussed at the moment, for example in Hinkler; is that the community owns and runs the program.

In the Senate Committee Hearing it was noted regarding ACOSS’ conclusion:

For example, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has acknowledged that the Cape York model of income management was not imposed by the government but was developed by the affected communities and that the FRC plays a unique role in case management, assessment and only refers individuals to income management as a last resort.

Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs

senate committees

The Community Affairs portfolio coverage includes Health and Social Services (including Human Services).

The Committee convened to consider the
Social Services Legislation Amendment
(Queensland Commission Income Management Regime) Bill 2017 [Provisions] on 22nd June 2017.

Committee Members

Senate Committees include representatives from various parties.

Chair, Senator Jonathon Duniam Tasmania, LP
Deputy Chair 
Senator Rachel Siewert, Western Australia, AG;

Members
Linda Reynolds (Senator) Western Australia, LP
The Hon Lisa Singh (Senator) Tasmania, ALP
Dean Smith (Senator) Western Australia, LP
Murray Watt (Senator) Queensland, ALP

Legislative Scrutiny

Other Committees also report through Committee in regards to the Bill.  The Scrutiny of Bills Committee had no comment on the Bill.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights made comment on the Bill. They noted that income management limits equality and non-discrimination, the right to privacy and family. They noted that the Cape York Reforms are different to the Northern Territory’s income management.

The Human Rights Committee also noted:

Notwithstanding this, the human rights committee noted that the application of income management in Cape York may be compulsory rather than voluntary and therefore drew the Parliament’s attention to the human rights implications identified in the 2016 Review of Stronger Futures Measures report.

An excerpt from the Stronger Future Measures Report states:

A human rights compliant approach requires that any measures must be effective, subject to monitoring and review and genuinely tailored to the needs and wishes of the local community. The current approach to income management falls short of this standard.

Consideration of Submissions Received

The Committee received seven submissions and all submitters supported the Bill and extension of the reforms to 2019. The Committee heard through submissions that the crucial role the FRC’s play in the reforms and the community, the increase in school attendance and child well-being, including better nourishment, were some of the main drivers behind continuing the reforms.

Extension to the Reforms

Since 2007, Cape York Communities have extended income management four times.  A crucial aspect is, under the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 (Cth) only the FRC can impose income management on an individual.

The Bamanga Bubu Ngadimunku Aboriginal Corporation supported the extension:

When the time does come, the people of Mossman Gorge need to be empowered to drive what happens next so that we can stay on this road of positive change. The government can’t just suddenly decide to end Income Management and the FRC, without letting us plan so that we keep going forwards and don’t go backwards after making such hard won gains.

Income Management

The Committee considered the component of income management as a key measure in the Bill.  In addition to ACOSS’ comment above, all submitters agreed income management should continue.

This is not rolled out across all of Cape York. The submitters impressed that it only applies to at-risk individuals in communities as determined by the FRC.

Also, the FRC noted that individuals lose the right to ‘choice’ however, it is the FRC’s view that the benefits outweighed this. 

The Department of Social Services also agreed with the Bill and advised that a previous review of the reforms showed that 78% of individuals surveyed agreed that it had improved their lives.

The Committee recommended the Bill to be passed.

A Significant Bill

The Liberal National Coalition Government is pushing to roll out income management in more trial areas.There is an active protest against income management in the communities of Ceduna and Hinkler. The community I live in, Rockhampton, QLD has had income management in the form of the Basic’s card for some period of time now. However, this does not work the same as the Cape York Reforms. Instead, Centrelink determines who is income managed.

I felt that this is a significant Bill to include in this series because there is a variety of contemporary opinion regarding income management. In addition, as a regional Queenslander, I also think it is important to promote the positive work community organisations do in regional and rural communities. Unfortunately, this is largely unrecognised by the wider media.

Political Positions

The other reason is this can also clarify the position of at least three political parties. The Liberal and National Coalition, Australian Labor and the Australian Greens, all have different positions on income management. 

The Coalition Government is clear they want a blanket roll out of income management. In short, they are keen to implement cashless welfare widely. However, not in the same manner as the Cape York Reforms, but as a Government controlled and imposed measure.

Labor‘s position is that they do not support a blanket roll out of cashless welfare. However, as clarified by Senator Gallagher, they will work with communities that say they want cashless welfare, such as this program.

In contrast to the Coalition, Labor will not support cashless welfare in communities where community members do not want cashless welfare.

Whereas, the Greens oppose all forms of cashless welfare. This includes opposition to programs such as the Cape York Reforms.

A few weeks ago, the Australian Greens misrepresented Labor and implied Labor supported cashless welfare and voted down a Greens motion to stop it.  This erupted into quite a massive social media furore of attack after attack towards Labor.  I clarified Labor’s position, as per above, here.

Australian Greens’ Dissenting Report

The only opposition to the Bill within the Committee was from the Australian Greens. The Green’s reported to the Senate Committee that they have opposed this measure since it was implemented by the Howard Government. Therefore, they do not support this Bill.

One reason was that they believe it is not right for some people to have to conform to ‘somebody’s version’ of social norms. and this “promotes the idea that disadvantage is primarily a result of the individual’s failure to demonstrate the necessary social values and norms.”

I find it very confusing how the Greens argue that this is “somebody’s version’ of social norms. Clearly, from its inception, the people of the Cape York communities are the people who defined the social norms. Also, it is noted that a key success is that the communities own and drive this reform.

Apples and Oranges

The Cape York program of income management is different to other income management programs in Australia.

A recurring theme is that these reforms are viewed as a temporary measure. In addition, some argue that income management is another form of dependence.

Importantly, there is a long term view for communities to work together to the next stage beyond income management.

While income management has had a positive influence on Cape York communities, submitters acknowledged that it would be some time until it could be removed and that more progress could be made.

Discussions surrounding income management should take into account that there are different models. Models such as the Cape York reforms are supported by the community as well as by the people who have their welfare quarantined.

Anti-cashless welfare advocates (of which I am one), should acknowledge that every community is different. In addition, this is largely an Indigenous reform. However, every Indigenous person is also an individual. The commissioner’s approach to individual rights is especially relevant. 

Governments should note that a macro-view one size fits all approach of imposing income management on groups in a blanket fashion does remove agency and choice. Government regulated and forced income management is destabilising and stigmatising without the drivers of community and participant support.

Vulnerable Jobseekers Are Invisible

Vulnerable Jobseekers

Source Salvation Army

Vulnerable Jobseekers need strong leadership. A shift away from a budget-savings model to a compassionate, supportive jobseeker-focused model is needed. The diverse needs of jobseekers, particularly vulnerable jobseekers, are ignored within the jobsearch framework and welfare reforms. Vulnerable Jobseekers are becoming increasingly invisible.

Vulnerable Jobseekers – Increasingly Invisible

Think of the word ‘Jobseeker’ and close your eyes.  Who do you see?

The jobsearch and welfare framework ignores the diversity of people seeking employment.  The shifts in the jobsearch framework over time have sought to encompass more and more welfare recipients. This is a concern because it neutralises the personal circumstances of the individual. The label ‘jobseeker’ will apply to almost all jobless individuals under the current Welfare Reform Bill.

Vulnerable people in dire circumstances and highly experienced former workers are viewed through the lens of sameness and homogeneity.

Invisible and Inexcusable

The term jobseeker is an active term – one who seeks a job.  This also disguises the involuntary nature of the act of job seeking for many.  Cases of terminally ill individuals forced to seek work have been brought to light over recent years.

The shifts in policy over time, also place a cloak of silence over the most vulnerable in society. Explicit in the current welfare reform bill, and implicit in the language of Government is that the vulnerable people will no longer have ‘excuses’ for not meeting job search requirements.

In other words, legitimate behaviour displayed in the face of complex life circumstances will render vulnerable jobseekers and disabled jobseekers inexcusable. Their normal behavioural response to complex situations, intolerable and punishable by law.

The most vulnerable suffer the most in this type of punitive system.

Increased Participation

The aim of Governments over time is to increase participation of disabled people in work. The Liberal-National Coalition and Labor Governments have supported shifting disability support pension (DSP) recipients off the DSP and transferring them to the lower paid Newstart.

The Welfare to Work reforms, under the Howard Government, is the most significant change-point in the jobsearch framework for disabled people. Reducing welfare debt, by decreasing the number of DSP Recipients, was the main economic driver of these reforms.

‘Disabled people should not be left behind’, has been the mantra of both the Coalition and Labor Governments.

The System is the Problem

There are some success stories for enabling vulnerable jobseekers into new work.  However, people with an episodic mental illness can experience more distress and increased barriers in this system. 

Many disabled recipients are now on the lower rate of Newstart. They do not qualify for the DSP.  A review of the Welfare to Work changes indicated that among people with disabilities, 67 percent experienced no change, 29 percent were financially worse off and 3 per cent were better off. Income losses were up to $99 a week.

In addition, since 2006, the financial penalties for ‘non-compliance’ are more wide reaching and harsh.

This will only become more prevalent under the current Welfare Reform Bill. This is because reasonable behavioural responses to complex life problems are considered ‘unacceptable excuses’.

Financial stress is an identified barrier to employment and positive mental health. This is a serious concern because this group already live 20% under the poverty line. 

Quick Through-Put

Industry concern at the time of the pilot testing of the Welfare to Work Reforms for disabled participants was the shift to outcome-based payments for service providers.

In essence, a concern of a quick churn out culture. That is a lack of consideration for quality job matching or individual job seeker supports and a focus on placing vulnerable jobseekers in any job.

Some eleven years and five Prime Ministers later, after thousands have experienced disadvantaged, unfair expectations and punishment for non-compliance; the Reference Group for Welfare Reforms (McClure et. al) have highlighted quick throughput as an issue.

The Government recommendation in 2015 was to increase payments linked to outcomes. Seventy percent of funding is now linked to 26-week outcomes. A change from 40% previously.  However, this is not particularly ideal.

A Change in Funding Approach

The other change John Howard implemented was a shift from block funding to the outcome-based funding of employment services.  Once again, five Prime Minister’s later, this approach has become increasingly accepted and embedded.  I despair at the acceptance of this approach by both major parties, with little review or criticism.

Arguments for outcome-based funding models are usually from an economic-centric rationale focused on budget savings – rather than a client-centric rationale – focused on quality outcomes from the client’s perspective.

An Enabling Environment for Attacks on Jobseekers

I would strongly argue that outcome-based funding is a serious contributor to the deteriorating support and cultural attitudes displayed towards jobseekers, as reported by organisations such as the Australian Unemployed Workers Union.

There is a plethora of personal recounts by vulnerable people in extremely dire circumstances. Involuntary jobsearch and financial penalties apply to this group.

Personal Recounts such as:

“I came close to committing suicide because of the way Max treated me” – A First Hand Account  and

Centrelink and Job Agencies Discriminate Against the Sick

Are heartbreaking recounts where privately contracted employment agencies not only exacerbated mental health conditions but seemingly were the reason the mental health condition was introduced in the first place.

Absolutely unacceptable.

A Stronger Shift To Outcome Based Funding

Personally, since the late 1990’s I have expressed concern about the shift in funding models.  I have had a consistent concern since its inception that the personal financial breaching of jobsearch participants, impedes outcomes and punishes individuals unnecessarily.

I express serious concern that a higher percentage of 26-week outcome-based funding for employment agencies, is more likely to increase punitive measures on vulnerable participants. It is more likely to see vulnerable jobseekers with an episodic disability placed in the too hard basket and increased penalties applied, and less complex clients given more time and attention.  

Most outcome-based employment services contracts have tiers of payment, where people who face more difficulty finding and sustaining work attract higher payments (Department of Employment 2015Lu, 2014). Despite this, several studies found that the incentives to service the most difficult clients were insufficient: these clients had poorer outcomes, were underserved, or ‘parked’ (Business Council of Australia 2014Koning and Heinrich 2013National Audit Office 2015). At the other end of the spectrum, ‘cream skimming’, the practice of favouring easier to serve clients, was also evident (Davidson and Whiteford 2012). (Emma Tomkinson, 2016)

An Empty Echo Chamber

The jobsearch framework has evolved into an empty echo chamber. Complex life-situations of homeless people, women escaping domestic violence, individuals recovering from sexual trauma, the physically disabled, those with psychiatric disabilities, silent disabilities and homeless young people, for example, are all viewed as ‘excuses not to seek employment’.

There are many recipients now on Newstart who have undiagnosed mental health conditions. Also many with diagnosed mental health conditions in regional and rural areas cannot access the appropriate services and treatment. In turn, they are financially penalised for this lack of investment in support.

There are many individuals who are treated blatantly unfairly, financially punished and driven to the depths of despair, exacerbating mental health conditions and some committing suicide.  This is absolutely unacceptable.

This is a very under-reported phenomenon in the mainstream media.  These individuals receive little voice by way of organised protest. These vulnerable citizens receive little attention in the political space.

When a situation such as the Robo-Debt disaster occurs, there is a furore about mistreatment and unfair and harsh measures. However, largely, politics ignores the unfairness and punishment jobseekers experience.

Strong Leadership is urgent now, to completely review this system and develop in its place a jobseeker-centric model of employment support. 

A Jobseeker-Centric Model

The Welfare Reform changes occurred in 2006 and further reiterations of Howard’s model have occurred over time.  These reiterations are by both the Liberal-National Coalition and the Labor Governments.

Specialised support services have deteriorated, such as JPET. The Gillard Government moved to a one size fits all one-stop shop model. Also, smaller community-based organisations were less likely to win contracts. In their place, much larger ‘financially stable’ organisations won tenders. This saw the merger of many smaller community-based employment services and the demise of some. Lost under these changes were local knowledge and expertise and a community-centric focus.

The current shift by the Abbott-Turnbull Government imposes further difficulty on vulnerable jobseekers. This is through a higher compliance for employment services for 70% 26-week outcomes. Agencies will leave complex jobseekers behind and pursue the outcomes which fund them.

The shift to wielding a much bigger stick by focusing on ‘unreasonable excuses and compliance’ for vulnerable people and more punitive measures, is frankly, quite frightening. The shift to homogenise the diversity of jobseekers is a major concern, as to the future ramifications of this move.

A shift to a client-centric model focused on quality outcomes as self-reported by the client is now urgent and essential.

Strong Leadership Urgent!

Strong leadership in this space is crucial and quite urgent.  A shift towards a jobseeker-centric model requires an enormous shift in thinking by political parties. 

It requires a shift from a budget savings approach. A shift from the underpinning thought that jobseekers do not want to work. The satisfaction of jobseekers and a focus on needs-based supports and outcomes is crucial. A shift towards recognising episodic illness and complex life situations.

Crucially, a shift away from forced participation. An objective underpinned by financial penalties for vulnerable people. Vulnerable jobseekers are in complex circumstances and are already living under the poverty line.

It is simply hypocrisy to participate in the CEO Sleep Out during Homelessness week and actively contribute to the harsh regime that contributes to it.

Intimidation and Bullying

The Government frames jobseekers as potential employees. However, the bullying, intimidation and punitive measures imposed upon them, in the most unreasonable manner, would not be acceptable in any organisation.

How can a Government remain unchallenged in this space?  Should privately contracted companies receive a reward for the harsh treatment of vulnerable jobseekers?

Why is the mistreatment and harsh punishment of vulnerable people, considered a ‘positive outcome’ in this policy sphere?

Jobseeker Satisfaction

Organisations that value their employees take job satisfaction seriously. Jobseeker satisfaction should be central to jobsearch models because it will enable jobseeker focused continuous improvements.

Assessment of job satisfaction for new workers is vital. Vulnerable workers self-reporting workplace bullying also a serious concern. Corporate culture and attitudes towards long-term unemployed new workers, is also critical to understand.

Visible Jobseekers

A jobseeker centred model will push the current model out of the comfort zone it has been in for twenty years.  A model which gives voice to jobseekers will push Governments to respond to build a better model focused on supportive outcomes.

A jobseeker centred model is essential because it will make jobseekers visible again.  It will give jobseekers personal agency.  Vulnerable jobseekers will have a stronger internal locus of control. They will give voice to the access and supports they need.

Exposed will be the urgent need for Job Creation.  This will place pressure on lazy Governments who do not meet their responsibilities in this space.

I hope for future where the privately contracted punitive outcome based model is extinct and a nationalised public sector operated, jobseeker centric model, focused on quality supports and jobseeker satisfaction exists in its place.

Welfare Reform: Turnbull is No Menzies

Menzies Welfare

Turnbull’s claim that the Turnbull Liberal Party is a party embracing Menzies Liberalism, is a self-delusional fallacy. In terms of progressive welfare reform, the Menzies Liberal is dead. 

The neo-liberal/conservative successors of Menzies are the insidious pathogen that flows through the Liberal party’s veins to sustain its current mutant form. Menzies views on social security and Turnbull’s stigmatising and punitive approach are poles apart.

Deviants and Outsiders

Since the 1990’s The Liberal Party of Australia has embraced the Thatcherist concepts of framing the jobless as ‘deviants and outsiders.’  Increasing punitive measures imposed upon the jobless has existed since Howard. Howard embraced Thatcherism and punitive measures have spiralled out of control since then, with each successive Liberal Government. Turnbull’s Welfare Reform Bill, currently before Senate Committee is increasingly worse and is no exception.

I will use Adam’s Equity Theory to explain how those who embrace the tenets of Thatcherism, encourage societal divide, anger and acceptance of punitive welfare.

Equity theory

Equity Theory is based on the logic that humans will make social comparison’s between themselves and others. In doing so they assess effort exerted for reward gained.

Social division is created through the use of negative narrative. Categorisations such as ‘bludgers, loafers, lazy and more recently ‘the taxed not’, forces humans to make a comparison with others. To determine if one is in the ‘in-group or the ‘out-group’ is a natural reaction.

Therefore, they encourage the public to actively compare their personal input into society against those on welfare. Is their personal effort (work) for reward (income) equal with those who receive financial ‘reward’ for no effort?

A stigmatising narrative drives the view that reward is equal. When in reality it is not.

The first Thatcher government was able to launch an anti-welfare campaign by tapping into deep-seated resentment of `something for nothing’ welfare beneficiaries, to especial effect when it could be suggested that those in receipt of the state’s generosity were largely `outsiders’ (Phillip M. Larkin)

Enabling An Angry Society

Equity theory is a motivational theory. However, it also belongs to the grouping of justice theories. This is because the construct of justice underpins the motivational factors and behavioural response.

How an individual perceives distributive justice shapes our culture.  This sets down the parameters of the socially acceptable response to express anger at unfairness.

For example, union activism is (largely) a socially acceptable way to express anger and protest unfair work laws. The behavioural response is anger. The motivator is to achieve equality for those worse off.

Manufactured Unfairness

In the context of welfare, the perception of unfairness through the lens of distributive justice is manufactured by those in power who have an inherent dislike for those on welfare.

The use of a negative stigmatising narrative creates this enabling environment. The perception that those on welfare receive an equal reward for no effort is championed by influential politicians and political commentators. Therefore, this creates an enabling environment for the public to express anger towards those on welfare.

In the seminal research of distributive justice and relative deprivation, the connection between perceived injustice and aggression is clearly evident. If a state of injustice exists and it is to a person’s disadvantage – that is they person experiences deprivation – he or she will display anger. (Einarsen et. al)

However, in the instance of manufactured unfairness, deprivation is a subjective perception.

In this instance, the collective views those on welfare as ‘better off’ (as they expel less effort for the perceived ‘same’ reward). Therefore, the collective considers their situation as ‘worse off’ and unfair (deprivation).

As Newstart is 20% below the poverty line, in reality, this is clearly not the case. However, the negative narrative and the layering of punitive welfare measures over time, masks this.

Punitive Measures Creep

In contrast to the union activism example above, the collective’s behavioural response is largely influenced by what I term as “punitive measures creep”.

This is the gradual increase in scope and intensity that punitive measures are imposed on welfare recipients by the Government.

The collective accepts increasingly harsh punitive measures. This is because they perceive these measures redress the unfairness. It is a fair punishment for the lack of exertion in exchange for the ‘same reward’. In essence, they no longer feel deprived.

Therefore, the collective is content with widening the scope of welfare recipients who must comply with punitive measures. They also accept the harshness or intensity of the measures as justified.

For example, although the opposition parties successfully prevented the implementation of Abbott’s ‘starve for six months‘ reform, there was some acceptance amongst the public.

Radical versus Incremental Policy Innovation

I would strongly argue that Abbott’s six-month wait also saw a large movement of rejection because it was not a gradual change.  Whereas, historically, the changes to punitive welfare measures are gradual.

As with the development of products, sometimes radical innovation is rejected. (A famous example is Apple TV). Incremental innovation is generally low risk and more acceptable to current users (i.e. IPhone 4,5,6, and 7).

Turnbull’s current welfare reform Bill falls into the realm of incremental innovation (if we can reach across the divide and apply this term). This Bill widens the scope of those who need to participate in ‘job search compliance’.  It also widens the scope of the types of welfare recipients who are labelled ‘jobseekers’. Sickness Benefit recipients, for example.

This Bill also gradually increases the intensity or harshness  of measures, by removing what is deemed ‘an acceptable excuse.’  For example, those with the classified disorder of drug addiction will no longer be exempt.

So Mr Innovation is actually innovative – just in a really shitty way.

Menzies On Social Security

Menzies Welfare

The Robert Menzies viewed through the lens of his election speech in 1946, is no comparison to the values displayed by the Turnbull Government.

Throughout his speech, Menzies framed the jobless as a ‘temporary necessity.’ 

Unlike the Turnbull Government and Abbott Government, Menzies recognised that there was not enough work for everyone. Menzies spoke of full employment. His view was to create enough jobs for everyone. Not to punish them for his lack of job creation. However, Turnbull does. 

A Necessary Incident

Menzies Quote 1

In this excerpt above, Menzies demonstrates that he understands that there is not enough work and his passion is to change that.

The Turnbull Government Obsessed with Social Security

Below, Menzies is detailing his intention to invest in Australia and build jobs, rather than focus on welfare.  Although this is the mantra of the Turnbull Government (Jobs and Growth) it is not evident in their actions.

Menzies Quote 2

It would appear that as there are 17 job seekers for every job vacancy and the Government has submitted another Bill with a focus on imposing more punitive measures on the jobless, therefore it would appear that the Turnbull Government has “turned its back upon these matters and devotes all its attention to social security.”

The concentration on punitive welfare instead of investing in real jobs and opportunity is a hallmark of the Liberal Governments of Abbott and Turnbull. It appears these were not Menzie’s values at all.

Turnbull’s idea that his leadership represents Menzies, is a self-delusional fallacy. The Menzies Liberal is dead.

The Mutant Form with No X-Gene

The Abbott and Turnbull Governments are a mutant form of what once was. The Marvel Comic Mutants, we know as the X-Men and their nemeses, exist in their current form as they are ‘post-human’ because they carry a special gene.

The X-Gene is a ‘super-human’ gene. In the example of Menzies, we will frame the gene as Menzies frames himself. For the purpose of the argument, if we were to view the X-Gene as a super-human who has a vision of progressive values and compassionate towards those on welfare; then Turnbull evidently does not carry this gene.

The closest Turnbull will ever get to the X-Gene is his adoption of X in MacGregor’s X-Y theory. This is because he views those on welfare, as unmotivated and unwilling to work and he needs to come down upon them with punishment and authority.

If Turnbull perceives Menzies beliefs as reflective of his own leadership; and believes he has the capacity to champion this now, he is a bit late to lead this change.

Turnbull is the late starter stuck in the barrier and Shorten is a length away from winning the race.

House Music: Welfare Reform and Drug Testing

division

This is the first of a weekly blog about Parliamentary Business. This week: Social Security Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill, Senate Committee Inquiry and a Petition against Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients.  

Every week, I will discuss selected Bills, Petitions and Committee Inquiries. Where appropriate, I will discuss Matters of Public Importance raised in Parliament. Through this weekly blog, I also hope to create awareness about the APH website and encourage active interaction.

Bills

welfare reform bill

Social Security Amendment Bill (Welfare Reform)

Quick Recap: (Not the entire list)

  1. Will remove seven current payments and reduce them to one jobseeker payment.
    (Remove: Widow B Pension, Wife Pension, Bereavement Allowance, Sickness Allowance, Widow Allowance, Partner Allowance) and
  2. Establishment of a drug testing trial and
  3. Removal of exemptions for drug and alcohol dependence and
  4. Changes to Reasonable Excuses and
  5. New Targeted Compliance Framework and
  6. Claim Provisions (Benefits will no longer be backdated to date of claim)

Discussion

Please note: this section is a discussion, therefore it is from my own point of view.  Please read the official Explanatory Note because this will explain the information as tabled.

Streamlining Payments – Everyone is a Jobseeker

It appears the Government’s aim is to punish as many welfare recipients as possible. Even those with a reasonable excuse.

The bereaved, widowed and incapacitated due to illness are all now “Jobseekers” under this Bill.

Even those genuinely incapacitated will need to participate in jobsearch.

jobseeker payments

These individuals will be scooped up into the same nauseating bucket the Liberals carry around at their sides filled with condemnation and labelled “Bludgers.”

Widow and Wife’s Pension

age2bdiscrimination

Since at least the 1990’s Governments have changed access to the Widow’s pension and Wife’s pension. These pensions are primarily the domain of women, because they are now unable to rely on a husband’s income due to his illness or death. This is another move to completely cancel these payments. Hence, my view is that they should be revisited and reinstated – not abolished

These recipients, mainly women, are not bludgers.  They are often active in family life and the community. Individual case managers should support Mature-Aged jobseekers in a voluntary program. A 20-year-old at a counter telling them that they haven’t done enough, should not exist. They should not live in fear they will be ‘cut off’ because they are the mercy of the system.

A Blow to Mature Aged Jobseekers

Mature-aged jobseekers are currently able to participate in voluntary work. This will no longer be the case. Are the Liberals suspicious this is a ‘loophole’ to avoid paid work? That is how The explanatory note reads to me. The vile deep bucket labelled “Bludgers” now includes volunteers.

Schedule 9 – Changes to activity tests for persons aged 55 to 59

volunteer

The Liberal Party does not value the contribution of volunteers (particularly women). Many mature aged women and men, who have not worked, would have a history of active participation in the community and schools. In addition, they often perform caring duties for grandchildren, because formal childcare is difficult to access and punishment is ludicrous, because this is a valuable contribution to society.

Mature Aged Jobseekers, seek employment, often because of illness, death and/or bereavement of a loved one and therefore should participate in voluntary jobsearch. Jobsearch can have an emotional toll on a mature aged individual, therefore, specialised case managers who understand this demographic need to support this group.This is because the sudden requirement for jobsearch can be a shock and furthermore is a huge disruption to their regular routine.

Financial Penalties – Every Single Time – For Everyone

financial penalties

The nature and extent of jobseeker compliance is harsher in terms of punishment and wider in the scope of recipients it is proposed to encompass.

I would describe the widening and intensity of financial penalties as ‘welfare punishment creep.’

This term describes the growing number of welfare recipients financial penalties apply to and the increasing lack of consideration and reasoning for which penalties are applied. 

This new Bill recommends a financial penalty to all jobseekers, with no consideration for a reasonable excuse, it appears.

This Bill proposes:

compliance

and

compliance 2

This section in the explanatory memorandum reads as if the Liberal Party has the assumption that every welfare recipient is trying to rip off the system, and they will find any excuse to get out of working‘.  Do the Liberals see all welfare recipients as underhanded and dishonest? Did you really think they would stop at cheezel eating X-Box players?

Drug Trials

drug testing welfare

This Bill also introduces the ‘infamous’ drug testing for welfare recipients. Also, see here for previous posts relating to welfare and drug testing and false positives.

Welfare recipients are required to agree with participation in drug testing:

drugs

The Government’s Mantra

The Government is implementing these drug trials under the premise that drug tests will show that jobseekers are not willing and able to participate in jobsearch.

A one off drug test may not show any indication of long-term or chronic drug use. Drug tests may not indicate the individual is unable to participate in jobsearch. In addition, as different tests test within the limitation of different time frames, this will not always ensure natural justice.

Urinary Drug Testing
This picks up drugs in a person’s system 3-4 days prior. This does not indicate chronic drug use or the inability to jobsearch or indicate impairment to work.

Hair Testing
This will only show drugs used at least four weeks prior.

This means that not only are the most recent three to four weeks invisible, but so too are drugs used prior to the growing time of the hair tested.  This approach approximately samples from a month prior to hair collection back as far as four months prior to hair collection depending on the length of the hair sample.

This means that a jobseeker is penalised, even if they are in a period of cessation.

..if the cessation of drug use does not extend back to further than four months prior to sample collection, the subject may argue that any drug found reflects use prior to the time of cessation

The other concern is that chronic drug users will simply shift to drugs because they are not detected in hair testing or urine testing.  Especially relevant is one such drug is GBH (liquid ecstasy).

GBH is the drug that saw 21 people hospitalised earlier this year.

Testing requires rigorous standards. Otherwise, contamination can occur. The NATA information paper also indicates that false negatives and false positives can occur.

Vulnerable People and the Right to Fairness

It is vital that welfare recipients experience compassion and fairness

Another concern is jobseekers who are on psychiatric medication can return a false positive (see linked article above).  Statistics also show that many individuals who are drug dependent have a comorbidity of mental illness.

The Australian Government’s own Department of Health and Aging reports that:

Comorbidity or the co-occurrence of mental disorders and substance use disorders is common.

The DMS-5 classifies Drug and Alcohol Abuse as a disorder.

“substance use disorder describes a problematic pattern of using alcohol or another substance that results in impairment in daily life or noticeable distress.”

Therefore, individuals are at greater risk if they have a psychiatric disorder, with a co-morbidity of drug addiction, or have a substance abuse disorder.

In addition, it is this specific group who are most likely to not have the self-efficacy to use the complaints system.

Fairness is an issue. When we are dealing with the most vulnerable in society, this is a major concern.

If the Government is concerned about substance abuse, they should invest in prevention and support services and not punitive welfare.

Please see the petition below and sign it!

Australian Liberals – Wanna Be UK Tories

Malcolm Turnbull Theresa may

These types of measures of consolidating payments is in line with the approach of the UK Conservative Party.  This was largely rejected by the Social Welfare Sector in the UK.

The Sickness that is the UK Conservative Party is on display right now. That is thanks to Jeremy Corbyn. No credit to the former UKLabour party given. Do we really want to vote for a Government that follows suit?  We are the country of the fair go. Not a country of abject poverty.

Senate Committee Inquiry

senate committees

The Social Security Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill has concluded it’s second reading and is now referred to the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs.  This committee covers Health, Social Services and Human Services.

Individuals and organisations can submit their opinions or proposals to the committee for consideration.  Here is the information on how to write and submit a submission.

Submissions should be received by 4 August 2017. The reporting date is 4 September 2017.

There is not a lot of time to participate in feedback on this Bill, therefore, if you are against these changes, I would encourage you to write a submission as a direct protest.

Signing change.org petitions and sharing memes have their purpose; however, a submission is a direct voice to the Committee considering the Bill.

Petitions

petitions

Many people regularly sign online petitions using platforms such as change.org, however, I would like to raise awareness that there are always petitions online in Federal and State Parliaments.

In fact, The House can only accept e-petitions that have been submitted via its e-petitions website. Signatures from other electronic or paper petitions cannot be added to your petition.

The petitions page is worth bookmarking.  Submitting petitions to parliament (State and Federal) and supporting official petitions submitted to Parliament is also critical in the stand against an issue.

To support a Petition:  Click on the Petition Link.  Complete your details, tick the terms and conditions box, go to your email and confirm your signature.

Standing up for progress – Achievement Unlocked!

Petition: Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients

We ask that the House reject the Government’s proposed trial, preventing the invasive and stigmatising practice of mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients.

Petition Number
EN0256

Petition Address
To the Hon. Speaker of the House of Representatives and Members of the House of Representatives

Petition Of
Certain citizens of Australia

Petition Reason
The petitioners request that the House reject the Government’s proposed trial of drug testing for welfare recipients.

The petitioners request that the House reject the Government’s proposed trial of drug testing for welfare recipients. The suggested “random” selection of subjects by profiling people thought to be high risk will lead to discriminatory selection, while income quarantine and compulsory treatment are ineffective measures that will further marginalise the vulnerable. Rather than supporting people into employment, this will force those with substance abuse problems to disengage with the system and seek other means to support themselves. This reflects the experience of other jurisdictions, where mandatory testing has proven expensive and ineffective. Such resources would be better targeted towards supporting our overburdened treatment sector, as metropolitan and regional service providers continue to be understaffed and underfunded.

Petition Request
We ask that the House reject the Government’s proposed trial, preventing the invasive and stigmatising practice of mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients.

I hope you enjoyed this first weekly review of Parliamentary Business. Until next week….

PATH: Proles Accursed To HELL! Enough!

Since time immemorial, the worker has fended off constant attacks. PATH is another chapter in the Liberal’s playbook where they accurse the Proles to hell.

A Worker’s Labour is Valuable

The Liberal Party of Australia formed to oppose the workers’ parties.  How Liberals and Labor view the worker are worlds apart. PATH is a clear example of this.

Australian Liberals

The basis of the Liberal ideology is to enable growth in the free market. They believe the cost of labour should be as low as possible. Turnbull’s Liberals believe a worker’s labour should be a cheap commodity. The incessant need to eradicate workers’ unions and weaken industrial labour laws are a testament to this.

One could strongly argue that the aspiration of full employment is not on the Liberals’ agenda. High numbers of unemployed people result in a much larger labour pool. This, in turn, drives wages down. Or in the case of PATH – the creation of an opportunity where labour is utilised for free.

As Sussan Ley said on Qanda: Governments don’t create jobs

The neo-liberal ideology aim is to purchase a worker’s labour as cheaply as possible. Ideologues like Turnbull and Cash, view a law passed to create a pool of free labour, such as PATH, as an exciting achievement.

Australian Labor

The Australian Labor Party was borne from the struggle of the worker. They believe that a worker’s labour is valuable. In simple terms, they believe that the ‘supply’ side of labour has the right to participate in setting the value of the labour. Hence their close connections with the unions. In simple terms, Labour Unions are there to protect the working class from the disintegration of rights and fair pay as imposed by the ruling class.

From this perspective, laws that negate this right, disempower workers and remove individual agency.

This is a punishment inflicted upon the working class.

The Rise of the PATH

The Turnbull Government introduced the PATH Program in the 2016 budget. This bill passed the Senate on 10 May 2017; with the assistance of Cory Bernardi, Derryn Hinch, Nick Xenophon Team, Jackie Lambie, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Family First all supporting the Government.

Only David Leyonhelm opposed the Bill, along with Labor and Greens.

The PATH to Nothingness

The PATH program offers young job seekers an internship by contract with an employer. This contract legally reduces the value of a young jobseeker’s labour. The taxpayer pays the intern at a rate of $4.00 per hour.

This is $14.29 an hour less than the minimum wage.This is $6.04 less than a 16 year old junior and $16.08 an hour less than a 21-year-old level 1 employee rate set down for many industries detailed on the Fair Work Australia payment guides.

The PATH scheme enables an employer to decrease the value of the intern’s labour by a minimum of 80% based on the scantest of entry-level wages in the country.

intern wage decrease

Business is at the Centre of the Framework

Internships are often painted as ‘work experience.’  However, work experience places the worker at the centre of the framework.  Work experience is usually a short-term experience in a workplace.  This enabled the worker to determine if they should invest in developing skills to seek future work in that industry.

PATH places business at the centre of the framework. An internship is:

The internship is designed around the needs of the host organisation and the intern’s skills, experience and interests. (Item 4, Sample Path Internship Agreement)

The employer must sign off to agree that they have a vacancy available now or in the near future. They have already identified that they need staff to meet operational requirements. 

The employer is already in a willing position to outlay money on recruitment and selection of new staff. They are already in a position to employ a jobseeker in a casual, temporary or permanent capacity.

This is not an incentive to increase staffing. PATH is an incentive to reduce recruitment & labour costs for staff that the organisation has already identified are required.

Additional Cost Savings to Business

Businesses can make considerable savings in induction, training and performance management costs during the probation period, in addition to recruitment and selection savings

The PATH program enables an employer to try a number of potential employees for free. This also frees them from all the associated costs during the probationary period.  

Businesses are able to increase profits through the tax payer funding the PATH program. This is not the same as work experience or on the job learning, such as an apprenticeship or traineeship. This is a free labour program dressed up ‘helping the jobless who seek to work.’

Lower Labor Costs Equal Increased Profits

The PATH program strips workers of their own agency. The worker has forced upon them, a lower dollar value in exchange for their labour. Employers have an opportunity to reduce costs and increase profit.

Labour, raw materials and overheads are the inputs in the production of goods or services. The through-put is the phase that mixes all inputs, including labour, together.

The output, being the end product or service is purchased or consumed by the consumer at the point of sale.  The employer factors into consideration the costs of all labour and materials in the input and through-put stages. The final product or service is sold for a percentage amount above the cost to produce that product or service.  This is the profit.

The cheaper labour is, the greater the profit for the employer.  The Government is creating a legal way for employers to reduce the cost of one factor of production.

The PATH program simply offers employers a way to reduce the cost of developing their product or service, enabling them to make a greater profit.

No Employment Guarantee

The PATH program offers no guarantee of future secure employment.  It does not offer a qualification that may be determined by the worker to be a sufficient value to trade for the monetary value of their labour.

What are the impacts on the emotional health of a young worker, if they are not retained?  What are the supports in place?

Experience as a payment does not automatically equal the same value of labour. Labour is given in exchange for money, conditions and other benefits. There is no formal equivalent offered to the value of the loss of wages, such as a degree that has a beneficial use to enable the worker to sell their labour to another organisation. 

There is no solid case that this experience will be valued by the young worker so much that it will negate any negative affect the young jobseeker will experience if they are not retained.

My main area of interest is emotions in the workplace.  I would encourage other bloggers to approach the PATH program from the aspect of the emotional well-being of the intern. I strongly believe we need as many people as possible investigating this issue.

Work. Struggle.

We are working people.
Work.
Struggle.
Even laugh about it sometimes.
None of us are winners.
We’re survivors
(Cameron Wolfe – Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak.)

These six lines boom, boom, boomed like a heart beating in the middle of page 25.

Marus Zusak has captured the essence of so many Australians. This is who we are.

The struggle of the working class in this country is a dire story. Sure, we have a history of hard fought victories. But as long as free marketeers live and breathe on the parliament floor, this struggle is endless.

Past struggle lives like a dormant beast within every, single worker.

The scars that punctured the body and mind, the endless nights staring at jail cell walls and the lives lost, of those before us, embodies the beast which stirs within the heart of every worker.

The Beast of Past Struggle

When Liberals and Conservatives think they can take away agency of the jobless. When they insist upon total control of their spending with a plastic card. The beast of past struggle stirs.

When they deny us and our children the opportunity of a skilled education, to learn a trade or a profession. The beast of past struggle stirs.

When they make a rule that says the weekends are only important to people who can afford to not work on the weekend. the beast of past struggle stirs.

And when they think they have the right to tell young people who are desperate for work that their labour has no value. The beast of past struggle stirs.

When the beast of past struggle stirs in many of us, the beast of past struggle ROARS!

In a civilised society, labour is purchased for it’s determined worth, not stolen through the rule of badly designed laws.

Liberal Bludgers Should Engage in Job Creation

Liberals cashless welfare card

The Australian Liberal Party are the champions of welfare bashing. If we treat the Liberals like they treat the unemployed, will they do the right thing and actively engage in job creation?

Tax Payers Funding Liberal Dependency

Most taxpayers don’t mind supporting Liberal Politicians who are doing the right thing. However, studies have shown that a wide number of these MP’s have become non-compliant. The public should take tough measures to ensure Liberal politicians are not just looking for a handout.

The compliance system delivered by the public is very simple. Job Creation, Fair Wages and Conditions for all Workers and properly funded Public Infrastructure and Services. This system is designed to ensure that Government’s capable of Job Creation – Do Job Creation.

The public is sick and tired of excuse after excuse. Spending too much time wining and dining corporate donors, or blaming Labor are not acceptable reasons to shirk working on Job Creation projects.

Weak-Minded “penalties” such as a constant thrashing in Newspoll is not a big enough stick to prod them along.

As of 1st July 2017, the average Australian Taxpayer needs to work 215 months (17.9 years) to generate enough taxes to support one Liberal politician on their base wage a year, based on the average Australian earning $60,082 a year.

It is clear that when the Liberals are in Government, the lack of desire to engage in Job Creation or even to attend a job creation brainstorming meeting is a significant problem. Is it a lack of leadership? A lack of ideas, or are they just plain lazy?

The Liberal Government Debt is spiralling out of control and they just keep putting their hand out and expect hard working people to pay for their lazy lifestyles.

We talk about some classic examples below:

Turnbull Liberals – A Drain on the Nation

TV Show “DumbRise” has reported that Brian Anderson – an average punter, uncovered a secret ghetto where Liberal cheats and bludgers breed – the Liberal Party Room in Canberra.

This isn’t naming and shaming. Concentrations of Liberal MPs not getting off their wallet laden posteriors and getting down and dirty in job creation projects, funding schools and hospitals properly and looking after our homeless and veterans and delivering a fair go for workers, is no laughing matter for hardworking Australians.

Instead, most of these Liberal bludgers are holed up in their offices eating Cheezels and playing WOW: RotAK (World of Whiteness: Return of the Abbott King). An MMORPG where they get to live out a fantasy life. They join factions, go to neutral territory “Auction House” where they can trade preferences with One Nation. They then spend hours in group ‘Raids” where they get to take down Union Bosses and can be “Knighted” with an achievement title under their name.

We have learnt this type of behaviour from the Liberals is very common.

Job Creation Cheats and Bludger Hotspots

Barry Anderson, a local cleaner, casualised because of the Liberals unfair labour laws; took it upon himself to test the urine in the sewers below the Liberal party room on a shift he should have been working as he was underemployed. The cut to his penalty rates sees him branching out. He is hoping to pick up additional work as a urine tester, with the Government. However, his initial findings may just have cost him the job!

Barry said his testing revealed the urine found in the sewers under the Liberal party room highlights a huge problem.

He said, “honesty, public good and job creation, found in the urine of politicians ‘doing the right thing‘ is largely absent. “These initial tests show there are large pockets of bludging Liberals. Wider testing should apply in all Liberal seats.”

Anderson revealed there were noticeable quantities of the following drugs:

  • The recreational drug ‘IPD’ – A drug that causes users to participate in massive infighting and party divide
  • DGAF – A drug which makes politicians insular and uncaring about workers and the poor and
  • FIGJAM – A drug that causes politicians to apply as guest stars on rival TV show Sunrise.

More alarmingly, the Party Drug MDNA (Minteds Doing Neo-Liberal Austerity) is highly prevalent. This drug makes Liberal politicians so high, they hallucinate and believe Job Creation is someone else’s problem. If people are out of work, ‘they can just innovate and create their own job”. They live in a dream state. One where giving rich people more money makes poor people better off. This includes cutting wages.

Anderson’s discovery may actually highlight the historical problem of inter-generational Liberal tax-payer funded salary dependency.

Crackdown on Relationship Fraud

Liberals collect tax payer funded salaries on the pretence that they are in a good relationship with the public. They are best friends with Medicare and an even better friend to the workers. However, Parliament Inspectors are on their case. Secret recordings show they are constantly cheating on Medicare and Workers.

 An unnamed source has photos of various Liberal Party members’ boots outside of the Office of Private Health organisations, corporate donors and the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Yes, they use excuses such as “Productivity Commission Reports.” How they “feel deeply sympathetic to the private sector and construction bosses.” And just how they are just helping out a mate. The public is not buying it. Liberal MPs, including the Prime Minister, will need to prove they are not in a relationship.

Coupled Politicians will need to prove they are faithful and not in multiple relationships, particularly if they are Catholic. Hard-working Australians cannot afford to fund Liberal Government MPs who are actively participating in multiple relationships and breeding swarms of Young Liberals.

Taxpayers simply cannot sustain supporting breeding this type of generational entitlement, IPA membership and endless pairs of pastel dress shorts.

This is extended to relationships with others in and out of the party room. A source, we can now name only as “Hansard” has identified that Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is always in bed with the Liberals.

Greens Leader Di Natale tried last week to jump into bed with the Liberals, but factional opposition Lee Rhiannon hunted him down and blocked the romance with the expertise of Joey Greco on cheaters. 

A close source has indicated a sensational expose is forthcoming on Too Much Tonight.

Tough Measures For Lazy Liberal Leaners

A series of Crackdowns will be put before the People’s Parliament next month. These measures are not punitive as such.  They are made to “lift the Liberal MP up by the bootstraps” so they engage actively in Job Creation, Funding Public Infrastructure and Services adequately and acting in the public good by rejecting Austerity.

Parental Support Measure

Parental support is a key reform. Mum and Dad should support the lifestyle of lazy Liberal MPs, until the age of 51 which is the average age of a politician, if the are not fully participating in job creation. This will save taxpayers at least $200,000 per year per bludging Liberal Politician.

If mum and dad have the capacity to pay for them, they bloody well should. Mum and dad don’t deserve to finally have their pay to themselves after their little Liberal comes of age. These parents will have to wait until their little Liberal decides to go job creating or turns 51. Whichever one comes first.

Salary Wait Times

Liberal Politicians who enter Parliament as a Liberal MP will have to wait six months for their first payment.  This is not a punishment. It is meant to encourage Liberal MPs to transition properly. Going from just being a son or daughter of a wealthy donor, member of the IPA or political staffer to being a Liberal politician who is actively engaging in Job Creation and serious budget work to adequately fund public infrastructure and services, without austerity.  This should help rein in the debt they caused in the first place.

Demerit Points System

Liberal politicians already receiving a salary will have a demerit system imposed on them. Just like bad drivers, this is meant to imply ‘they are all bad’.

If they fail to sign a mutual agreement plan, that they will create jobs: – 3 demerit points

They fail to actively participate in job creation – 3 demerit points

If they blame high unemployment rates on Labor – 4 demerit points

When they privatise public assets – 5 demerit points

If they accumulate seven points, their salary is cut. That is until they can prove they are re-engaging. They must participate and deliver decent Governance to Australians.

Cashless Welfare

 A roll out of Cashless Welfare in all Liberal held seats is imminent. Blue Ribbon seats will be the first to take up the card.  This card is designed to help Liberal politicians who struggle with participating in the community. Job creation and delivering outcomes for the public good, is an expectation of mutual obligation.

The Institute for Pontificating Affairs champions this measure as an excellent strategy to ensure Liberal Politicians don’t take their hand out for granted.’

Under this cashless scheme, the public can control what the Government MPs spend their ‘salary‘ on and use data matching, including hacking smartphones, to weed out the most devious of cheats.

‘At risk’ Liberal politicians are the focus. Everyone will know they are not working to the best of their ability. At the checkout and at the servo. No more brown paper bags filled with cash as they stare forlornly at the ATM.

  • Fancy Dinners with Donors
  • Expensive Clothes
  • Free Travel
  • Wining and Dining
  • Helicopter Rides
  • Overseas Junkets
  • Multiple Property Buying
  • Luxurious Office Fit-Outs
  • Campaigning or Book Launches disguised as Charity Events
  • Gambling with the Lives of Workers
  • Paid Union Bashing Advertising or
  • Alcohol

Are all banned items for Liberals placed on this card.

The Struggle to Pass These Measures

One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson strongly opposes these measures. “The Public and Labor are always picking on Liberals. This includes Liberals who have started their own parties like me and Cory,” She exclaimed shakily.

We stand in solidity (sic) with Liberals and value their commitment to Austerity and bloody decent rorting. I mean, if they come for them, they will come for me and my plane next and who will be left to speak for the racists and union bashers? Not the bloody ABC, that’s for sure.”

A Liberal Party spokesperson has advised that they are in talks with The Australian Greens. Greens Leader Richard Di Natale said he will adopt whatever ever measures will make him look good to the Liberals. Keeping the Liberals cashed up to woo donors and stay in power, means the Greens will remain a strong voice for those who want to protest against the Liberals and PHON.”

In any case, I won’t be standing over there with bloody Labor and their ‘worker this and worker that’ and that lefty-pinko Rhiannon.” He said.

This Could Change Politics Forever

I am frustrated at the state of the politics in Australia. I am here to offer a solution. This simple solution could change politics forever!

It is frustrating that so many people are apathetic about politics. I am frustrated that all it takes is a slogan or a fear repeated back to them to win the people over.

We have just seen the rise of extreme right wing Nationalist parties in Australia. We have seen the highest amount of disengaged voters and third party voters. How did it come to this?

It has come to this because shouting people’s concerns back to them is now seen as a solution, rather than having real solutions.  

We have got to this point, because politicians are rarely held to account for the decisions they make.

We are also at this point because politicians are talking ‘over people’ and they not listening to them.

Isolated and Ignored

It has been noted by many journalists and commentators that there is a growing number of people within Australia who feel isolated and not ignored. They feel the Government is not doing enough to help them. They feel the opposition is not standing up for them against the Government and they feel this very strongly.

There is an air of distrust that politicians say they will help, but then the actions the politicians take, don’t help – they cause harm.

The problem is that politicians routinely say one thing and then do another. A clear example today is the Prime Minister’s cutting of domestic violence services, but responds with words and platitudes that help no one. Domestic Violence victims need real money to build real services and supports. Not empty words.

The Solution to Change Politics – The Placard Test

I have a suggestion for all politicians. The media often talks about the ‘pub test.’ I would like to suggest as a solution – The Placard Test.

People who are passionate about ideas, achieving justice and taking real action get out into the streets, stand together and wave placards and chant their support for an action that needs to be made, or their distaste for an action that has been made by politicians.

Politicians should be prepared to stand out in the street and wave their placards to show that their decisions are the best decisions. This would be known as “The Placard Test.”

The media would also love this. Standing somewhere waving a placard always gets attention and turns people’s heads.

On the other hand, it reaffirms that those votes were definitely not wasted on that politician. It would save a lot of effort, time and money campaigning prior to elections.

The Solo Placard Test

Politicians could do this via the solo “look at moi” approach:

hanson-worker-deaths

This could save a lot of confusion for voters. For example Pauline Hanson above campaigning on the fact that she stands up for the ‘average Australian’ would be debunked, if she had to stand holding a sign about the real action she is taking and what this means for ‘the average Australian.’ 

Or

living-in-poverty

This would also make voters less confused. The Liberals are an old hand at making harmful decisions, but telling Australians how good these harmful decisions are. If they had to hold a sign up about that decision, it would be much more clear to the average voter.

The Solidarity Placard Test

The solidarity approach would be quite exciting, with the entire party and all politicians who supported the Government involved.  All standing there side by side in solidarity waving their placards.

If the decisions of the Government and politicians who support the Government think these are great decisions then get out there and convince us with the Placard Test.

Here is a picture of what a “Liberal and National Coalition and their mates in the senate” rally would look like:

lnp-protest-2

Liberal and Coalition, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Bob Day, Leyonhelm and anyone else who is the Turnbull Government camp –  see how great this is?  (By the way, these are pro LNP, anti-Gillard, Anti-carbon tax protesters, just to make the Photoshop more authentic)  

To really stand together and own what you truly believe in is a fantastic feeling!

This is real innovation in leadership Mr. Turnbull. Round up the troops now!

For the Opposition

For the opposition. I know Labor is not new to protest. However, with so many angry and disengaged people, you need to just say it like it is.  Instead of listing a number of things you believe in (which is nice), tell people what you will do. These people are hurting and they are angry.  They need to know what you will do to stop the hurt in simple terms. For example:

butler-placard

We need a bit more of SHOUTY Bill standing up for what is right. Get out there with your megaphone Mr. Shorten and tell the country what a cad Turnbull is for cutting welfare from the most disadvantaged in our society.  Shout the Prime Minister down. Shout out to the public that you will stand by us all – for a fair go.

bill-megaphone

People say Labor and Liberal are the same. So they take the third party option. Show the country the difference between Shorten and Turnbull. Tell those supporting far right parties like One Nation and the QLD LNP that you will fight for the people a hell of a lot harder than they ever will! 

Make it a reality and let us see the emotions behind the belief. The emotions behind the fight. The fight for jobs and the fight for fairness is in Labor’s blood. Wear it on your sleeve! The contrast is very stark indeed!

shorten-vs-turnbull

Shout about Genuine Solutions

The far right parties are gaining support because they just shout the fears of the people back to them. They have no real solutions. They don’t need real solutions. Change Politics by communicating in very simple terms the solutions of the opposition and explain how this will address their fears.

Adopt this solution to Change Politics!

I hope politicians think this is a great idea. If they are so passionate about what they believe in and the decisions they make, the Placard Test would surely win over the public.  It is a great way to get the media to take photos of them (which they love). The public would know exactly how committed they are and exactly what they believe in.

The Placard Test would be much better feedback than the focus groups politicians rely on now.

It would also make all politicians accountable (and maybe think twice) for the decisions they make on behalf of the people or when they support bad decisions by the Government of the day.

This is a great way to communicate the stance the opposition has made, even when the Liberals and their mates, Hanson, Day etc., outnumber the opposition parties.

I hope the Placard Test will be a winner.  If done right, the Placard Test will be the political change we need.

Politics Driven Fear and the Pain it Brings

fear

People are expressing the increasing need to separate themselves and self-identify as situated above certain groups. They feel the need to paint others as lesser. This need is fed by fear driven politics and it is causing a loss of focus and it is causing a lot of pain.

Memes used to be funny. They were quirky, sometimes delightful, sometimes thought provoking and sometimes so funny one would cry from laughing. Now memes are more about social status. Sharing to place oneself in a better class.  A class above Jobseekers, Unionist, Muslims, Indigenous and LGBTI people who just want to get married amongst other groups.

Not an hour goes by on social media when I do not scroll by some defamatory post about Muslims (mostly aimed at degrading Muslim women) or how jobseekers are bludgers and should just get a job. Then I scroll by more shares about how unionists are self-serving, dodgy criminals. Then I come across those who belong to the special group who believe they are more Australian than the Indigenous Australians who were here in the first place.

Every day we scroll through the privileged Olympics, but there are no winners. Only losers.

The privileged I am talking about here, are not the Turnbull type of privileged; but so many every day Australians who share derogatory memes about various groups on a daily basis. These people come from all walks of life. They are not necessarily rich and they may be poor.  Wealth status is not the issue here.

These people are privileged by default, because they do not belong to the group that they and others scorn, ridicule, shame, shun, ostracise and stigmatise. It is like every share elevates one to being a gold card member of the ‘in-group.’

The problem is that the privileged do not see. They are blinded. They cannot calm their egos enough to bring themselves down to another level to try to understand the life of another.  They do not attempt to listen and empathise; they are on autopilot with judgement and ridicule.

Social media has made it so it is so much more important to hold dear to the opinion originally developed, than to attempt to understand an issue enough or look at it through different eyes; to recognise it is causing harm and change that opinion.

If we are complaining we haven’t progressed since Whitlam, it is largely our fault. It is our fault that there are so many people in pain, because every day I see stereotypes and stigmatisation shared around to approve and contribute to the infliction of pain on others.

We pit the oppressed against the oppressed when a meme is shared to give the homeless more than refugees. How does one judge the value of what assistance should be given? What drives us to choose between a person who has seen their entire family raped, tortured, slaughtered and burnt and fled their homeland or give to a person in desperate need of shelter, food, clothing and care? Do they both not deserve love, kindness and generosity?

What fear is within us that makes us share such memes as representations of our thoughts that we play judge and jury and decide who is not worthy of care and assistance? Is kindness such an ugly emotion that we reject it? Is it a fear that others may judge you as being too kind?

No, it is the fear driven politics that has led us to believe that a Government and its citizens cannot be generous enough to help both. It is the fear that if they do, we would somehow be worse off. It is fear driven politics that sees us remain silent on the generous assistance to the wealthy banks and business, whilst we verbally bash the poor.

We glorify a free-market-worker-hating-Government every time we share a meme about the ‘pathetic’ unemployed and how they are bludging and living off our taxes. We kick the worker every time we contemplate how unfair it may be that some  greedy workers are getting paid penalty rates and how terrible this is for business and their profits. Pass me a goddamn tissue.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government is the epitome of the greedy bourgeoisie and there are every day citizens working so hard to work with them and for them to shove the worker and those who are jobless down as far as they can be kicked.

We have come to a peculiar space in time where the plebs themselves are standing with the bourgeoisie. For if they do this, then being a pleb, is better than a prole or the “hoi polloi.”  The common worker, consumed by politics driven fear is tearing their own class apart.

“Workers United will never be defeated….” Go on…say it….it means something real.

What is the fear that drives us to glorify a Government who insists that the unemployed (human beings in case you have forgotten) should starve for a six months, six weeks and now a month?

Is it a fear that we may lose something if jobseekers are offered assistance from the public purse?

Is it a fear that we may just not have one more submarine to build if a jobseeker can live on real meat instead of noodles?  Is it a genuine fear that Gina Rinehart might have less billions and that would somehow hurt us?

Is it the fear that we may confront the uncomfortable truth that our judgements reinforce the message that turning to sexual favours and even suicide is a reality for these individuals who are finding it so hard to survive in a world of  not just poverty, but scorn and condemnation?

Above all else, it is the politics driven fear that those living in poverty are stealing something from us. It is the fear that they are getting something for less effort than us. It is the fear reinforced by the LNP message that there will be fewer hospitals, fewer schools and fewer jobs if we treat the unemployed with dignity. It is the politics driven fear that assisting jobseekers will result in less jobs; because that means we could one day be them.

There is no point attempting to provide input of an opposing view.  Try to tell someone to be angry at the Government for not creating jobs, instead of blaming the unemployed. It is an interesting exercise. Contrition is not an emotion that we appear to embrace as Australian citizens.

This politics driven fear is also blinding us. We are losing focus. The fear of people from different lands and different religions is so critical we cannot take our eyes off them for a second. It is vital to share, share, share anything we can find, made up or not on the internet. It is critical to continuously reinforce this fear as legitimate and worthy to defend.

It is more important to have conversations on social media that can last days about how the viewpoint of one radical Muslim is the view of all Muslims; than to really engage thoughtfully and productively about how we can lift good Australian people out of poverty.

It is more important to remain silent on humanitarian issues,and use our fear of a religion we don’t understand as an excuse, because if we really stop and think about it; we may realise we are actually being inhumane and that is an ugly truth to face.

What fear is driving us that we are content with leaving other human beings in indefinite detention?  Indefinite – without a hope, never to be released – just in case the key word has not hit you yet. Murderers get less.

The irrational politics driven fear that unionists are doing less work than the regular taxpayer for a greater gain, is more important to hold onto, than to stand with unionists who have given us the work-life we enjoy today and that they continuously fight for. This fear culminates and makes us forget that we once stood with pride and dignity and shed tears to remember those workers who were jailed, murdered, maimed, starved and broken just so our labour is recognised as a valuable input in exchange for fair wages and safe conditions.  How soon we have forgotten the pain of John Howard’s Work Choices?

Every single time we share memes, or have conversations that reinforce the politics driven fear espoused by the Liberals and the Nationals, and now the more right wing parties; we are condoning the infliction of pain on the vulnerable.

We have a responsibility to stop and take stock that this rhetoric that is being whipped into a frenzy day after day has gone too far.  It is time to sit up and take notice, that by doing this, we are hurting the people we talk about helping in other conversations we have

It is time to stop and think about those on the right who say they have the solutions, actually don’t.  It is time to really listen to their proposals. Tearing down the worker and punishing those who are unemployed due to Government failure is not a solution. Dividing people by race or religion is not a solution. Clinging to the harmful measures that create more poverty and more divisiveness are not solutions. Why this is not being realised is the real phenomenon.

Choose Populism if you want a Rock Star. Reject it if you want a leader.

Some appear to be genuinely good people. However, politics driven fear is driving some people to throw brimstone and fire at those they want to help, instead of at the Government and other right wing parties who are the central cause of the problem.

It is time to take a stand to honour those and respect those who cannot, to challenge the Turnbull Government and others every time they reinforce the degradation of a vulnerable group.

It is time to stop sharing derogatory memes and start having real conversations about how we can build a nation, and not share our acceptance of helping the Liberals and others on the right tear it down.

It is time to stop dividing and start uniting. It is time for a hand up and to bring back the fair go.

It is time for the mate-ship and camaraderie we apparently as Australians represent.

I miss that. Do you?

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.

What have you really noticed about Bill Shorten?

labor-put-people-first

With so much of the same old, same old meeps about the Lib-Lab monopoly/duopoly and the clatter of mismatched voices who want something new, but can’t articulate what that is; the question is “have you actually taken the time to notice what Bill Shorten is about?”

Is it possible that for some, the inner voices of cynicism and pessimism developed by participating in the mob culture of screaming against a two party system, automatically disregard even the most progressive and positive reforms from Shorten’s Labor, just because they are a major party?

Is it possible that some are so fixated on the decisions of leaders of the past they did not agree with? Is it possible that due to this, they are not yet ready to notice Labor in 2016 and view them with a clean slate? Turnbull has been afforded this opportunity, but I do not notice this being extended to Shorten.

Is it possible that this is just a rant by someone who is dedicated to the Labor cause? Possibly. That is for the reader to decide.

However, all I can talk about is what I have noticed from my own perspective. So I will outline a few things that really strike me about Bill Shorten and his leadership and the direction he has been taking Labor thus far.

I will do this as counters to two distinct areas of the narrative I have noticed in the context of myth breaking,  of “Both Parties are exactly the same” as I see it – “Underpinning Values” and “They are selfish and out of touch and just don’t listen.”

 

Myth: Both the Major Parties are exactly the Same

Underpinning Values

I personally always find this statement extremely confusing. I will begin with the underpinning values of both parties, as I see them.

Liberals – The Liberal’s values are underpinned by individualism. In terms of public social policy, they believe that everyone is born equal and it is up to the individual’s inherent propensity to ‘make it in life. They believe, this in turn this develops the country as a strong and prosperous country.  Liberals believe in small Government intervention as they see Government intervention makes individuals lazy and reliant on Government and this weakens society.

Government intervention is usually paternalistic with punitive measurements seen as a guiding hand, that is required to motivate those without an internal propensity for self-development.

They believe in low taxes and favour a user pays system instead of major investment in Government funded services. The Liberals are semi anti socialism of the public sector and favour privatisation and outsourcing of the public sector where they can achieve it.

They believe in the free market and the balance of power in favour of the employer is the best result for the economy.  Liberals have a disregard for the value of a person’s labour and believe low wages and low cost to employers create more jobs and are drivers for the economy.

Liberals do not promote Government intervention in high unemployment as a large surplus labour force drives wages down, as opposed to a tight competitive labour force.

The Liberals believe in maintaining the status quo through conservative and nationalist values.

Malcolm Turnbull and his predecessor Tony Abbott, continue to champion their commitment to these values. Abbott being more vocal and committed to these values than Turnbull, who is committed to these values, but remains largely silent on the intent or values which underpin his policies. 

Malcolm Turnbull’s reason for going to a double dissolution election, was a policy which has star chamber type elements and strips away the civil rights of the worker, including apprentices. He saw this as so important, so vital to the progress of the nation.

Malcolm Turnbull continues with Tony Abbott’s abhorrent budget cut regime progressed and championed by Turnbull, with all the pomp and ceremony of an entitled King.

Labor –  Labor’s values are underpinned by a form of collectivism and solidarity. Their valued are based on democratic socialism, egalitarianism and laborism. Labor recognises that not everyone is born equal and that it is the Government’s duty to intervene and provide assistance to those who need a hand up to achieve equality. They believe in a Welfare State to provide protection and social and economic benefits to the nation’s citizens.

Government intervention is incentive based and with a propensity towards proactive rather than reactive measures. (Such as investment in preventative health measures and needs based education funding).

Labor believe in the socialism of the public sector as opposed to the privatisation of the public sector to provide the best services to the community.  They believe the right assistance can develop individuals into strong, productive citizens, able to engage in the community, and break down the hindrances that were preventing them from doing so. Labor’s values consider external factors to the individual’s inherent drive and personality, and do not seek to place blame on the individual, but seek to address these hindrances and strive to provide an egalitarian society.

Labor’s overarching philosophy is Laborism, which values the labour of the working class. Laborists believe in the protection of safe work, rights and wages. They also believe this drives productivity and keeps the economy strong. They strongly believe that everyone should have equal access to work and a fair days work for a fair days pay. They believe in the Fair Go for workers.

Laborism is consistent with Government intervention in job creation projects to bring equal opportunity to everyone through the ability to access secure work, self development and career progression. They strive for low unemployment as this also creates a better standard of living though higher productivity and higher wages.

Labor believes in collective progressive policy which seeks to challenge the norms of the status quo. They are the leaders of every major positive reform contemporary Australia has ever had, such as: Medicare, Superannuation, Collective Bargaining, Fair Work Tribunal, Gonski, NDIS and NBN  

Under Bill Shorten’s leadership, his message is clear that he has returned to the true Labor values ingrained in Laborism which distinguishes Labor as a defiant opposition to the conservative alternative.

His very vocally championing egalitarian values and laborism as progressive solutions. His rejection of the increase to a GST as it would hurt the most vulnerable, his damning rejection of changes to Medicare and tenacious protection of our universal health system, his rejection of the removal of penalty rates and his submission to the Fair Work Commission to protect same.  His endless counter attacks on the Government to protect pensioners and families from harmful cuts and to stop the Liberals making the unemployed starve for six months!

His policy for protecting workers from underpayment, from exploitation and ensuring clarity of the term “Internship” to separate this from an essential learning or training activity from one of exploitation of the working class. In addition to policy for mandatory quotas of apprentices in Federally funded projects and investment in upskilling and training in new technologies.  There many more examples of this differentiation between Shorten’s Labor and Turnbull’s Liberals, and they can be found here.

Both parties are selfish and out of touch – they just don’t listen to the people

Liberals – The Liberals view of “the people” traditionally focuses big business as centric to their policy development.  A key focus of economic policy management is built around the rhetoric of welfare bashing of ‘lifters and leaners’ or ‘taxed and taxed nots’ so cuts will be met with little resistance from the public, through the stigmatisation of this group.

Engagement with the “community” is often restricted to attendance at high end functions, with high end priced tickets for high end donations.

As described in the section above, the attacks on families, welfare recipients and workers are a testament to how out of touch the Liberals are with the every day Australian and their families.

Turnbull’s “look at moi” empty verbose rhetoric, where he talks at people and not to them. An example of this is, his common phrase of, “We simply must remember….” in my view is a clear indication of class separation where the ‘people (a forgetful and unintelligent lot) need a gentle paternalistic guiding hand from those who need to remind us of our place.”

Labor – The Labor movement invests in grass roots activism. Under Bill Shorten engaging with the public has been a central focus.  Community Cabinets in QLD were introduced by the Labor Government and Shorten’s personal style is community forums, where he openly takes questions from the floor and answers questions in an open public forum.

Shorten has done about 150 public forums in the last 18 months and numerous live Facebook feeds direct to anyone on Facebook who cares to subscribe to his live posts.

As for if Shorten is in touch with the people. I will leave you with his budget reply address for you to decide.

My personal view on Shorten

I have had the personal opportunity to attend one of Bill Shorten’s community forums.

In my own experience, he fielded a huge variety of random questions and answered them in detail. He was relaxed and open and quite focused on the night being about the people and their questions and not about us listening to a speech about him or Labor.

I had the opportunity to ask a question.  He approached me after the event and asked me to write to him in more detail with my concerns and expressed genuine interest in speaking to me further. I saw him openly engaging with others with genuine interest as well after the event.

He did not have to do that. He did not have to seek me or others out. He had enough people around him to purposely avoid me, if he wanted to. It speaks to his genuineness as a leader. I wish everyone could meet Bill Shorten because until you meet him up close and speak with him, you don’t realise that much of the negative media portrayal and other people’s negative perceptions are so very wrong.

I have not been truly excited about the vision of a Labor leader in a long time, but I truly connect with Shorten’s vision and leadership. In my opinion Shorten is the real deal. His ability to remember names, faces and detail of questions at community forums is phenomenal. You kind of need to see this in action. He is a highly intelligent man with great compassion and a great passion for people and their concerns, which is truly visible at a community forum.

I truly believe he will win the next election outright and will go down as one of our greatest Prime Ministers in our history.  I have 100% faith in him and the direction he is taking Labor.

Conclusion

It is such a shame that for many engaged in ‘left politics social media commentary’ disregard the shift in direction under Shorten’s leadership.  It is disappointing that those on the ‘left’ who oppose Shorten’s Labor discuss him as if he has evolved from some 1980’s mindset where neo-Liberalism was forging it’s place across the world and judge him on the decisions made by former leaders, which really should be critiqued in the context of that time. It is also frustrating that the progressive policies and Laborist solutions he is putting forward, fall on already made up closed minds and deaf ears.

Whether you think post is just a rant from a someone who is dedicated to the Labor cause, or a genuine attempt to implore people aligned with the left to view Shorten and his modern Labor party with a fresh open mind and really critique his current direction which is ingrained in the values of laborism and truly engaging with the the people. As well as a plea to not to continue to compare and contrast with the decisions and leadership of Hawke, Keating, Rudd or Gillard, which many say they have issues with, then that is up to the reader to decide.

Labor’s policies will not suit everyone, nor are they perfect with no room for improvement. However, it is very, very evident that Bill Shorten making a dedicated effort to meet as many people across as many communities as possible and he is really listening and is open to positive and progressive ideas for change and he has already led substantial policy development as a testament to this shift to the left and laborism.

For those who genuinely and fiercely arguing to topple both of the major parties from power and who are insisting Shorten does not have ‘Leftist’ values –  have you really truly taken the time to noticed what Bill Shorten is about?

Cashless Welfare – Enough is Enough!

basics-card

Yesterday I watched Bill Shorten’s address on the McKell Institutes Report Choosing Opportunity where he spoke passionately about equality and a fair go. However, to achieve real opportunity, the first thing we must acknowledge is that stigma and discrimination are not conducive to equal opportunity.

Income Management, Cashless Welfare and Basics Card all have the same aim.  The aim is a paternalistic approach of a ‘guiding hand’ to set those unfortunate enough not to have a job on the path to ‘wholeness.’

The aim of income management is to enforce a patronising approach which places the burden of shame and stigma on the unemployed, because the Government cannot be bothered to engage in job creation; because oh! that’s right, “the market will sort it all out.” Bullocks!

The aim of income management is to inconvenience, stigmatise, and label the unemployed as ‘others’ who are not part of the ‘normals’ in society.

The aim of income management is to conduct surveillance of the unemployed (Dee, 2013).

The aim is to extend a measure that was originally aimed at reducing alcohol abuse and child abuse in remote communities and now has extended to so many.  The current and previous Governments have placed control measures on those who do not need controlling. That is not the “Fair Go” Australians long to return to.

With the NT having more than four times the number of all the other income management sites combined, it really begs the question if this measure is indeed racist and the extension of this measure is to appear ‘not racist!’

The McKell Institute explains three types of welfare models in their report:

“The study identified three main forms of welfare state: the ‘liberal welfare regime,’ which emphasised market efficiencies and demonstrated limited government interventions; the ‘corporatist regime’ which is committed to preserving the traditional family, and invest in social insurance programs that encourage motherhood and provide benefits that encourage mothers to return to work; and finally the ‘social democrat’ model which pursues equality.

If the underpinning construct of Bill Shorten’s speech and the McKell Institute’s report is equality; then income management simply must be high on the list to be abolished.

With donations reform and perks for politicians in a huge big glaring spotlight; Australians should be rising up and screaming about situations such as the excerpt below, instead of getting reeled into the agenda set by the media.  I’ve seen an overwhelming amount of people absolutely fixated on the Dastyari saga and counter-attacking with dodginess from the Liberals. Meanwhile, in the land of cashless welfare, people can eat plastic or starve!

cashless-welfare

It is time for change. It is time to stand up now. It is time to stand up for the jobless, the homeless, the disadvantaged, and the disabled, who have their income managed by the Government.  These are the people who matter.  These people. The innocent, the vulnerable, the labelled and stigmatised.

Enough is enough.  If you truly believe in a Fair Go. If you truly believe the Fair Go underpins everything we believe as Australians, please write a letter to the following insisting on the abolition of mandatory income management for welfare recipients in Australia.

Minister for Social Services
The Hon Christian Porter MP

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services
Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Members representing your electorate
Your local MP

Senators in your state
Senators

Enough is enough!

 

Dee, M 2013, ‘Welfare Surveillance, Income Management and New Paternalism in Australia’, Surveillance & Society, 11, 3, pp. 272-286.

 

Ten Kids Poorer than Malcolm

Turnbull farther

The Hashtag #MalcolmWasSoPoor has been trending around the Twitter-verse. This is in response to a recent public video from our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. In a cruel morbidly satirical twist to the election; our obnoxiously wealthy, high end of town associated, Cayman Island investing, Australian Prime Minister has tried to prop himself up as the very battler his own party oppresses.

Turnbull tells the story of his single father – A hotel broker – a life of real battles and struggles. He speaks about this battle and struggle of a hotel broker parent as synonymous with the lives of other single parents – the low paid workers and the welfare dependent.

In his out of touch way, he also tries to draw the implicit comparison that genuinely poor people understand, and that is that ‘sometimes love is all that gets us through.’

Love is all that gets us through when we need to eat hot milk, bread and sugar to fill our tummies and keep us warm; not when we are worrying about what the elite private school we are attending might be serving us for lunch!

It is well known that Turnbull has had a privileged life, attending a school for the wealthy, has had high-flying well known connections to assist him to get ahead in life and is now a multi-millionaire.  Australians are not dolts and the viral hash-tag shows that many Australians are beyond belief at this latest grab for votes.

This attempt to identify with those in poverty, would have been more palatable, if he had recognised his privilege, but identified that he has used that privilege to listen to people and work on ways to help them.  But he did not.

The release of this video in the midst of an election – an election with class-war as the centrepiece, draws parallels to cultural appropriation in the form of poverty appropriation.

You simply cannot dress yourself up as a poor and disadvantaged person and ‘borrow’ that way of life as if this gives you entitlement to the pain and struggles of these people.  It is insulting and denies the credit of the struggle of the poor and disadvantaged that they deserve.  Poverty appropriation is a new low in politics.

The disconnect of Turnbull and the Liberal party to the poor and disadvantaged demographic is ingrained within their constitution:

2. d (vi) looking primarily to the encouragement of individual initiative and enterprise as the dynamic force of progress. Which translates to:

“We-are-all-born-equal-and-anyone-can-make-it-if-you-work-hard-enough”

This is a stuff and nonsense platitude that does nothing but add another label or ‘laziness’ or ‘bludger’ to the poor and disadvantaged, who are already stigmatised by the empty LNP rhetoric and their harsh policy decisions.

Turnbull doesn’t want us to look at the Duncan Storrar’s of this world and say ‘how can we help as a collective – as a nation? How can we work together to do better to assist people like Duncan lead a better life? What can the Government do about this?’

No, Turnbull wants us to look at people like Duncan and cry:

“Shame! You have not used your own initiative, you are lazy and can do better! The Liberal Party gives you the individual freedom and punitive welfare measures to push you forward and make you work hard and the free market to do this in. It is your fault if you cannot be the best you can be.”

…and this was very loudly backed up by the Liberal Party’s biggest advocates – The Murdoch Press.

There are kids who are the real battlers of today, who do not need to use some type of poverty appropriation to experience it, to empathise with it or  identify with it – they live it every day.  Here are ten kids poorer than Malcolm:

1. The eight year old boy in regional and rural Australia who is struggling to get a proper education because his family has no access to the internet.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his judgement of rural and regional Australians that he completely misunderstands their communications needs and how a communications infrastructure is essential and affects their prospects for the future.

2. The ten year old girl who can sing like an angel, who has the potential to be another Dame Joan Sutherland, but is unable to compete beyond the local eisteddfod, as her parents cannot afford singing lessons, let alone the travel for state or national competition.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his understanding of how a few spare dollars a fortnight can make the future so different for some children, when his party cut Family Payments.

3. The seven year old girl in a regional community who misses her dad so much when he goes away for treatment for weeks at a time, as the regional hospital does not have the services to treat his condition.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his understanding of the crucial role public health plays, particularly in regional communities when his Government cut critical health funding by $80 billion dollars.

4. The six year old boy who sees the shame in his mother’s eyes simultaneously with the judging eyes of the shop assistant as his mother hands over her Basic’s Card and he feels the not yet understood feeling of stigma.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his life experience that he cannot empathise and feel the shame and stigma that income management brings.

5. The nine year old girl with undiagnosed learning problems who will get further and further behind, because the school cannot afford additional remedial support staff to assist her.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his choosing a life dedicated to individualism and the free market over democratic socialism, that he cannot comprehend how an ideology based on individualism hurts those most in need and it is the chain that holds them back when he chose not to ‘Go the Full Gonski – whatever that means.’

6. The three young children who were so hungry their stomachs hurt, because they were unlucky to live in a disaster prone area when a flood hit and they had no access to funding for food after all of theirs was spoilt and destroyed.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in the checking of his privilege when he supported his party to cut Labor’s disaster funding guidelines which excluded so many needy disaster stricken families in desperate need of financial assistance.

7. The eleven year old girl who knows how to grab her four year old brother quickly to find the hiding spot and knows how to keep very, very still and not make a sound as she cries when she hears her mother get thumped and dragged and beaten and her heart races with every blood curdling scream, because Mummy says there is no where for them to go.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his commitment to feminism when the Liberal party cut funding to domestic violence services and Community Legal Centres in Australia and decided to inadequately address funding needs for this sector in the budget.

8. The young person who will suicide next week due to not being able to cope with early onset of psychosis and his family cannot afford $600 to see a private psychologist.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his understanding that all lives matter more than dollars when he made the commitment to discontinue organisations such as the The Early Psychosis Youth Services (EPYS) program.

9. The young teenage girl who will develop serious health problems and die at only age 26, as in making the choice between a paying for a blood test or food, she chose food.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his foresight that destroying and privatising Medicare that this situation will be a young person’s future reality.

10. The thirteen year old boy who is so afraid inside, but must show he is  brave as he continually swallows the urge to cry, as he sleeps tucked up inside a stolen sleeping bag in an abandoned industrial building with his new ‘friends’.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in  his comprehension that being a homeless youth is terrifying, lonely and dangerous when the Turnbull-Abbott government cut more than $500 million from homelessness support services.

As a child raised below the poverty line, this latest Turnbull video – an attempt at garnering votes saw me initially remain silent.  Regardless of Turnbull’s intention with this video, it has made me feel by ‘borrowing the lived experience of real poverty’ as his own, he has mocked my childhood and my experiences with contempt as he lilts and lulls his inflections with aplomb and tries to romanticise a life of disadvantage as ‘one that is the foundation of success’, as long as you have a ‘good dad.’

As someone who normally enjoys political satire, I have not been able to participate in the #MalcolmWasSoPoor Twitter frenzy and mock Turnbull’s attempt at poverty appropriation. I did not know why, until I worked out how this had actually made me feel.

I can only speak for how I feel and not for others, but this latest political stunt has developed a seething inner child who has screamed so loudly to stand in solidarity with the children of poverty who exist today that I was compelled to pen this post and give them voice through this medium.

To say the least, writing this list has been extremely confrontational, even with my own lived experience. I have used poetic licence to bring these stories into the context of today, but every single example is a built from a real example of someone I have made a connection with throughout my life, except for number 9, which is a hypothetical of the result of a Medicare system under destruction.  These stories are not fiction.

Rich or Poor we have the power in this country to make our world better for these children and we can do that with a vote. There are children like these in every electorate, this is their reality. Vote for an end to the conservative agenda permeated with individualism and put the LNP last on July 2.  Our voice is our power. Please use it wisely.

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.

 

 

 

 

Ten things more reckless than funding Gonski

Gonski turnbullPaul Keating was so right about Malcolm Turnbull, wasn’t he? “A bit like a big red bunger on cracker night. You light him up, there’s a bit of a fizz but then nothing, nothing”

After all the glasses-twirling hype and the selfie-induced-train-hopping; nothing is exactly what we are getting from an undemocratically elected, Liberal Party appointed Prime Minister who is quickly learning that he can’t please the people and his party. However, he has clearly chosen who he aims to please. Malcolm Turnbull has clearly chosen to please the conservative right wing of his party and not the people of Australia and certainly not our children!

In his interview on 3AW with Neil Mitchell, Turnbull described Labor’s commitment to fund Gonski as, “Reckless.” Malcolm Turnbull believes that the fair and equitable education of ALL little Australians is “Reckless.” Malcolm Turnbull believes that investing in our children, the very people who will shape this country for our future, is ‘Reckless.”

Malcolm Turnbull believes that your child does not deserve a fair go!

Any leader who undermines the very essence of our shared Australian value of – “The Fair Go” is reckless. It is reckless toward us as individuals and it is reckless toward us as a collective. Turnbull’s rejection of Gonski funding is not just reckless, it is irresponsible and regressive.

To play on a phrase Julia Gillard famously used….If Malcolm Turnbull wants to know what Reckless looks like, he just needs a mirror. That’s what he needs.

The Abbott-Turnbull Govt has been the most reckless Government of my lifetime. That is why we need to talk about the:

Ten Things More Reckless than Funding Gonski:

1. Not Giving a Gonski

Education changes people’s lives.  The Gonski Reforms are an opportunity for fairness and equality in education.  It is an opportunity to provide equal access to pathways of future success for all of our children. The Gonski reforms will pull some sectors of our society out of generational disadvantage. The Gonski reforms enable our country to be competitive and improving our economy. Giving a Gonski is giving our children, your children, a chance to be competitive in the jobs of the future. Committing to Gonski could mean enabling the pathway for a future Prime Minister. Refusing to commit to Gonski is keeping the door shut to a Prime Minister that could have been.

The Prime Minister of Australia willingly choosing to uphold disadvantage over fairness and equality for all is beyond reckless, it is downright destructive.

2. The Job Seekers can Starve for Six Months Policy.

This little gem drummed up by the ‘let’s stigmatise poor people’ rabble of the Abbott-Turnbull Government, decided that in the era of high unemployment created by decisions by their own party, that young people who could not find a job are not entitled to social security payments. Deciding that young unemployed people should have no money for basics such as food, clothing, shelter, hygiene products or medicine is very reckless indeed. (Labor, Greens and some cross-benchers opposed this and a new policy is in progress for jobseekers to starve for one month instead.

3. Trashing Labor’s FTTP NBN 

I’m just going to leave this here because I’d rather watch Jason Clare explain how reckless Turnbull has been with the NBN, rather than write about it.

4. The Trade Union Royal Commission

Wasting millions and millions and millions of dollars on a political witch hunt, presided over by a judge with a history that spans decades of  very close ties to the Liberal Party of Australia, is one of the most reckless acts against the working class this country has ever seen. The reckless attack on workers to bring back a reckless star chamber style ABCC is abhorrent. No Mother or Father ever wants the young man in this video to be his or her child! Shame. Shame. Shame.

5. Attacking the Most Sick and Vulnerable in Our Society

The cuts to health and the continuous push towards a user pays system are reckless to the extreme.  The situation the Abbott-Turnbull Government is pushing for, is where your wealth decides whether you are in pain, undiagnosed with a serious or terminal illness, or possibly even die.  This type of class division of access to health will lead to a broken country.  No human life is less valuable than another life based on the amount of money someone has in the bank.    

6. Being a Fake Friend

Both John Howard in 2005 and Tony Abbott in 2014 said that the Liberal Government was the best friend the workers have ever had. Pretending to be a friend to the worker, is not just reckless, it is deceitful. A Government who makes it easier to employ foreign workers instead of Australian workers is not a best friend to the worker. A Government who does that is made up of a pack of self-righteous, out of touch lazy gits and by taking a generous wage, are the real leaners on society. MP’s are not elected by the people to do backroom deals to push Australians out of work.  How reckless is it to make changes to employment rules that result in Australians being replaced with foreign workers and then laugh about it.  Really? How reckless is that to everything the people in this country value?

7. Attacks on low paid workers and their families

The push from the Abbott- Turnbull Government to make life more difficult for families by cutting family payments and attacking penalty rates is indeed reckless. Some parents rely on weekend shift work to help the family get through the week. Sometimes this is the only work mum or dad can get to work in with their primary duty of caring for children. To attack the penalty rates of some of the poorest people in the country in conjunction with cuts to family payments and abolishing the School Kids Bonus is yet another step closer to the Abbott-Turnbull led class divide trotted out by the Liberals and Nationals time and time again. Class divide is indeed one of the most reckless things a Government can do.

8. The Government’s policy of Secrets and Lies

The approach and treatment of Asylum Seekers under the Abbott-Turnbull regime is abhorrent, shameful, disgusting and damaging.  The Abbott-Turnbull Government’s commitment to the secrecy provisions of their policy is beyond reckless. I do not believe a word exists for how damaging this extreme practice is. The treatment of Asylum Seekers is in the name of all Australians, not just in the Government’s name. Concerned citizens and advocacy groups have the right to investigate the treatment of people seeking asylum in our name. Asylum seekers have the absolute right to advocacy, medical treatment and legal representation. The cloak and dagger approach has only lasted so long. As reported yesterday, Border Force admitted that at least 23 boats have been turned back and this is a regular occurrence. To say the boats have stopped is a bald-faced lie. With the Government casting its invisibility cloak over people seeking asylum, the public have no idea if people are still drowning or the number of deaths at sea. As Harry Potter Fans will appreciate, the Government has the invisibility cloak and with Dutton’s face as the stone and Turnbull’s twirling glasses as the wand, the Government really could be the Masters of Death.

9. Income Management – Basic and Healthy Welfare Cards

The Cashless Welfare card is the symbolic mechanism that brings the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s agenda of stigmatisation of the poor to life. This draconian, punitive measure ensures that those who are unemployed are branded as such at the checkout. The Government harps on about how they understand innovation, but then deny the unemployed the ability to purchase cheap goods off buy and sell sites on Facebook and at the local market. The cashless welfare card denies an unemployed mother the ability to give their school child that $3.00 in an envelope for the school excursion they just remembered about that morning. Income management only serves to degrade the unemployed as incompetent and not able to manage their own meagre budgets. It is a punitive and degrading measure, which takes away the liberty and freedom of those who are on welfare. Income management increases barriers to employment for jobseekers and that is indeed reckless to the individual and to our society as a whole.

10. Not allowing a free vote in Parliament on Marriage Equality

One of the roles of the Prime Minister and Government is to provide leadership of tough issues. This often means doing what is right for minority groups, regardless of popular opinion.  I was deeply perturbed at the very vocal Abbott-esque backflip by Turnbull in question time on Thursday.  The new Malcolm appears not only to be reckless, but now completely unhinged.

Terri Butler: Given it is clear that members of the Prime Minister’s own party will not respect the $160 million plebiscite on marriage equality; will the Prime Minister immediately allow the free vote that he used to argue for on the private member’s bill that is currently before the parliament?

Malcolm Turnbull: I am not sure what it is about the honourable member’s approach to democracy that she so despises the views of the people that sent her here.

Parliament did not conduct a plebiscite to determine if we should or should not have sexual harassment laws introduced. They did not conduct a plebiscite to pass the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, contrary to what the popular belief at the time would have been. The Government of the day saw legal entrenched discrimination and had the guts to redress it.

By standing by a plebiscite, Malcolm Turnbull is valuing the opinion of bigots and homophobes who have recently photoshopped rainbow nooses around a woman’s neck in an anti-marriage equality advertisement. That is not valuing democracy. That is upholding bigotry and allowing bigots to have a voice against those they seek to oppress.  As leaders, the Government has a moral obligation to view this debate from a legal standpoint of discrimination based on the choice of sexual preference and redress this discrimination immediately.

It is reckless for a Government to deny people who love each other the right to marry, based on their sexual preference.

Conclusion

If Malcolm Turnbull wants to know what reckless really is, here are just ten of the many reckless things the Abbott-Turnbull Government has done in the short space of two years and four months.  Investing in Gonski is not reckless, it is responsible and visionary, two things the current Government lacks.  To fight this Government’s recklessness, remember always to put the Liberal/National or LNP last on your ballot paper and Give a Gonski today.

 

The Challenge for the New Minister for Women

we can do it turnbull

 

Today we welcome a new Minister for Women – Senator Michaelia Cash.  In December 2013, I wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister and Minister for Women, Tony Abbott.  I outlined quite extensively my concerns for legal discrimination and discrimination by default. I received a very prompt response from Senator Claire Moore of Labor which was very comprehensive and addressed all of my concerns.

 

However, I still awaited a response from the Minister for Women who said that “Women do not suffer legal discrimination in Australia.” After months of requesting a response, Senator Larissa Waters from the Greens took up my case via email to me. Finally, in April 2014 I received a response from Senator Michaela Cash, Minister assisting the Minister for Women.  I thank Senator Waters for her tenacity and persistence.

Senator Cash advised me in her letter that the Liberal National Coalition is “committed to delivering policies that ensure both women and men have equal opportunities to contribute to society and live free from all forms of discrimination.” 

In her letter to me, she also praised the work of Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick and noted, “Elizabeth Broderick has demonstrated leadership on a number of issues raised in your (my) letter.”

Elizabeth Broderick’s term as Sex Discrimination commissioner ended in September 2015 and to my knowledge a replacement is yet to be appointed.  The Attorney General, George Brandis told the Debrief Daily, that a replacement was under consideration, but no announcement at this point.  This is just two days prior the Commissioner’s post being vacated.  The Office for the Minister for Women does not appear to be keen to source and push for a replacement, knowing a vacant chair was immenent, for a Commissioner who has done such great work.

Senator Cash also advised me in her letter that her Government has also “Made a number of commitments that will seek to drive forward gender equality in Australia.” Senator Cash then outlined a number of policy priorities.  As this is 15 months after this letter was penned, let’s have a look at Senator Cash’s responses and how they stack up.  I see these as challenges for the new Minister for Women:

Relocating the Office for Women – This was advised by Senator Cash to be one of the “first priorities and a key election commitment.”  Senator Cash advised that this will “Strengthen a whole-of-government approach to providing better economic and social outcomes for women and sends a strong message across government about the need to consider women in the development and implementation of policies and programmes”

How did this stack up? – Unfortunately, this priority has not achieved the outcomes it said it would.  The strong message sent across government with one, then two women in Cabinet reduced this strong message to a whisper.  When we take into consideration the number of women in Cabinet who identify as a feminist and actually sincerely believe in gender equality then this strong message is merely tokenism and placed on mute.

At the time of Senator Cash’s response, women in leadership roles were sparse. However, today, the new Prime Minister has now in increased the number of women in cabinet to six, which is now a makeup of 22% women and 78% men. This still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of commitment to policy input by women.

The better social and economic outcomes are not evident from this move and there are quite a number of budget cuts and policies, which are harmful to women. Cuts to family payment, the attacks on government paid parental leave, cuts to funding to community services such as “Girls Time Out” in my community, which assists young pregnant mothers to name a few. (GTO has since been refunded after a fight brought on by the State Labor member for Keppel).

Pregnancy discrimination, Paid Parental Leave and Lifetime Earnings – Senator Cash agreed with me that we must reject discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace. Senator Cash then outlined the Liberal’s panacea for all things women – the Paid Parental Leave Scheme and directed me to a report by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Supporting Working Parents: Pregnancy and Return to work National Review.

However, Senator Cash did not mention in her letter that this review was instigated by the Attorney General on 22nd June, 2013; which at that time was Labor’s Mark Dreyfus.

On 22 June 2013, the Attorney-General’s Department asked the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, on behalf of the Australian Human Rights Commission to conduct a national review on the prevalence, nature and consequences of discrimination in relation to pregnancy at work and return to work after parental leave 

How did this stack up? – As we know the Liberal’s panacea to all things women, the PPL, was abandoned by the Government and they also went on an attack on women who had already bargained with their employer for PPL and screamed that they were ‘double dippers.’  This is a derogatory term, aimed to stigmatize women. Not the Government’s greatest achievement.

As per the pregnancy discrimination issues raised in my letter; as discussed above, it appears the Liberal Government has done no work of its own in this area and the work was commissioned by Labor.   The findings certainly have not been in the forefront of the Government’s agenda and to this point remain relatively silent, unless you make an active choice to read the report.

Productivity Commission Inquiry into Childcare – Senator Cash directed me to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into childcare.  At this point, it was in the early stages and was not expected to be finalised until February 2015. I found this inclusion a little confusing.  I had not raised any specific concerns about childcare affordability etc., in my initial letter.  My concerns were mainly specific to the discrimination of pregnant women in the workforce, the impacts of the casualisation of women and the impacts and discrimination experienced by women returning to work from maternity leave. The questions I raised were not specific to the childcare framework, but more focused on missed opportunities for training, promotion and leadership, breastfeeding discrimination and negative and inappropriate comments from managers and supervisors. However, after a review of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Childcare recommendations, none of these recommendations addressed my concerns.

How did this stack up? – In this instance, the Minister assisting the Minister for women, read my concerns as affordability of childcare and did not address some of the ingrained cultural issues within workplaces, enabled by existing legislation to redress discrimination for women in the workplace. Although, the recommendations have not been developed into policy at this stage, some of the recommendations concern me within the wider framework.

The recommendations aim to encourage all mothers to return to work. There is little support in terms of policy direction from the Government for women to stay at home. Under both the Liberal and the Labor Governments, the choice to mother at home has been taken away from women who want to provide a stable, continuous home environment for their children, by forcing mothers to return to work. In regional areas, there is not the support structures, transport infrastructure or jobs to place this additional burden on single mothers. Some mothers from low socio-economic backgrounds do not have their own transport or support network. This policy direction does not place women at the centre of the debate and should be a supported choice to return to work, not a regulated forced requirement to obtain income to support self and child/ren, which in my view discriminates against women who want to make the choice to stay at home.  This choice is afforded to wealthier women, who have the privilege of a second income that can sustain both mother and child at home.

The entire policy framework of women and work is from one of ableism and is not supportive of women with a disability. With no Disability Commissioner and none named in the new Turnbull Cabinet Ministery, I fear this will not be redressed.

Another concern is that child care payment is always viewed as a combined income situation. To overlay this against the concerns we have at present with the rise of domestic violence, I strongly believe it would be pertinent for the government to review this to support women to be able to independently earn their own income. Not all women, have access to income or shared income in all situations and financial control is a common factor amongst victims of domestic violence. Please view the recommendations linked above.

Women on Boards – Senator Cash outlined in her response that “the Government is committed to supporting women into leadership roles, and we are engaging with the business and community sector to support women’s representation of leadership and on boards.”  Senator Cash also informed me that the government is engaging with the National Women’s Alliances.

How did this stack up? – Senator Cash advised they were working with the National Women’s Alliances. This alliance was formed by the Gillard Government in 2010. Senator Cash may not have known at the time of her response to me, but regardless, this alliance’s funding will now cease in 2016.  As a woman from a regional community, I hope as Minister for Women she will announce the refunding of this alliance.

Violence against women – Senator Cash assured me that, “A key priority of our policy agenda is to ensure that women and their families are safe from violence.” Senator Cash also reassured me that they are continuing with the previous Labor plan to reduce domestic violence. I also note that Senator Cash advised that they have increased funding to White Ribbon.

How did this stack up? –  The nation is aware that we have a domestic violence epidemic with a very high number of women violently murdered in a domestic violence situation so far this year. The Government has remained relatively silent on this issue and has not championed any real commitment to assisting women at risk of or fleeing domestic violence. Some of my concerns: cuts to family payment, increasing financial pressure in homes, the four week waiting period for Newstart, which will see young women at risk of homelessness and violence, the cuts to Indigenous legal aid (now refunded), cuts to community programs which are vital to support for young women. The increasing casualisation of women in the workforce, providing little stability for families and the lack of seriousness in responding to developing a committed immediate framework and funding much needed and required services.

Women at Risk – This is a response to women fleeing as asylum seekers and the discrimination within the current processing framework (for more detail see original letter linked in the opening paragraph). Senator Cash advised that they have a “Continuing objective of the empowerment of women” and they have increased 1000 places for women at risk in their humanitarian intake.

Senator Cash also advised that “the Government will ensure that Australia’s refugee and humanitarian resettlement program provides places to those we can help most and those most in need.”  Senator Cash did recognise that women and children are the most vulnerable in this group and “deserve to be given a very high priority in Australia’s refugee and humanitarian program.”

How did this stack up? – To date, the Government has been marred by accusations of the inhumane treatment to asylum seekers. The Human Rights Commissioner’s report and Senator Hanson Young’s vocal reporting into the conditions in camps and other professionals speaking up about ill-treatment and abuse, physical and sexual of women in camps, the secrecy and lack of empathy by the Government gives me no confidence at all that the Office of Women considers women seeking asylum, with any seriousness or commitment. This needs to be urgently addressed, in light of recent developments.

What was not addressed in Senator Cash’s response

There were a number of areas not addressed at all in Senator Cash’s response to my original letter. These are discrimination for women pertaining to the areas of:

  • Rape and the Justice System
  • Denial of right to safety
  • Casualisation of the workforce and insecure employment
  • Gender Pay Gap, including lower wages in ‘traditional women’s industries’
  • Superannuation
  • Marriage Equality
  • Indigenous specific issues I outlined relating to many of the above areas and support for mothers and children of the stolen generation.
  • Abortion Law
  • The under-representation of women in Parliament

How did this stack up? – Frankly, I felt a long-awaited response from the Government, which took the tenacity of Senator Larissa Waters to take up my cause and finally receive a response from the Office of Women months later, was disappointing to receive so many areas not addressed. Also, as you can see in the other responses outlined above, I was disappointed that the Government claimed ownership of Labor initiated programs and reviews, through absence of this information and 15 months on, no real progress in policy to redress discrimination for women.

I will never know if the former Prime Minister and Minister for Women, still believed that “Women do not suffer legal discrimination” after considering the matters raised in my original letter, as this was not addressed.

Where to now? – I hope that the new Minister for Women does believe that women do indeed suffer legal discrimination and discrimination by default.  Personally after Senator Cash’s tirade on the ‘sisterhood’ in the senate, my personal preference would have been Marise Payne to take on this role, as I believe Senator Payne has spoken out on a number of occassions with seriousness on issues that women face. I hope as Minister for Women, Senator Cash changes her rhetoric and attack as displayed in this video. Otherwise, she cannot be taken seriously in this role.  

I hope that now Senator Cash is the Minister for Women, she has more scope to tackle head on some of these areas that need to be addressed urgently.

I fear that the impacts from the Government’s wider policy in welfare, humanitarian programs, social support programs, education and health are ingrained in an ideology harmful to women. I seriously doubt many of these areas I have outlined as my concerns for equality for women can be redressed, as these wider policy frameworks coupled with the rhetoric and narrative of the Government can and do act as antecedents and enablers of discrimination to women.

I strongly believe that the liberal and conservative ideology of the Liberal National Coalition impedes and prevents proper progress in the area of equality for women and a change of Government is the only solution. However, only time will tell.

Mr. Abbott – These People Had a More Difficult Day Than Bronny.

bad dayThis afternoon, Sunday 2nd August, 2015, Bronwyn Bishop, resigned as Speaker of the House, after public pressure over an expense scandal.

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister, told Australians that “it had been a ‘very difficult day’ for Mrs Bishop.”  I’d like to take this opportunity to share with Tony Abbott the range of people who have also had a ‘very difficult day’ today because of the cuts and broken promises and poor decisions of the Prime Minister and his Government.

 

  1. Asylum Seekers on Manus Island and Naaru living in squalor in detention indefinitely.
  2. The young person on Newstart who will starve for a month because they have no welfare income.
  3. The young person in Regional Australia who has run out of petrol and is stranded, because the only service station that takes a Basics Card is closed.
  4. The Single Mother who is waiting until Wednesday to buy milk and bread because her payments have been reduced.
  5. The person with a disability who has been transferred to Newstart who has to decide between eating and petrol, because if they don’t go to their ‘obligated inhouse training’ they will get cut off.
  6. The woman Asylum seeker who is so ashamed she is crying because she isn’t allowed a sanitary napkin, because the Guard said she can’t have one.
  7. The low and middle income earner pensioner who is stressed and upset about their future after pension cuts.
  8. The woman with postnatal depression who no longer can go to her counselling sessions because she can’t get childcare because she isn’t working or studying.
  9. The jobless Australians worried that work if even further from their reach because of your China Trade Deal
  10. The chronic pain sufferer who is going without and living in pain due to increases in medication
  11. The Federal Public Servants you sacked who are worried they will lose their home because they can’t find another job
  12. Indigenous Australians in Remote Communities because you have denied them basic essential services and who will have nowhere to live because you are closing remote communities.
  13. Sexually Abused women and children Asylum Seekers in detention because you failed to act on abuse claims
  14. The homeless person on Newstart stressing they won’t be able to eat when they get cut off, because their personal life barriers are a hindrance to applying for 20 jobs per month
  15. The Jobless South Australians who could be employed building submarines but they are still jobless.
  16. The Mother who is worried that she can’t afford to take her child to the doctor because the bulk-billing centre is full and you have put up Medicare through the back door
  17. The 756,100 jobless in Australia
  18. Young unemployed people in Regional Australia doing twice as many hours of slave labour with no workers comp protections under Work for the Dole
  19. The Bushfire and Cyclone victims whose lives will never be the same because they didn’t qualify for disaster assistance after your changes to disaster assistance criteria
  20. Everyday Citizens in local communities who no longer have access to services or maintained roads due to your cuts to Local Councils

That is just a list of 20 examples of people who don’t just have a difficult day, they have a difficult day every single day whilst your Government is hurting everyday Australians.  Please call an election. It’s not just the Speaker who needed to go. Your entire Government needs to go.

 

How do you starve a region of jobs? Just vote LNP!

Most Australians want a good quality of life and a good standard of living.  To achieve this, the availability of jobs in any region is essential. The Liberal National Coalition Government always, always claim to be the Party to look up to when it comes to jobs and business.

We see the main stream media support this claim with positive spin after positive spin in favour of the LNP or derogatory headlines and stories about Labor.  I often wonder if there is a statue of Tony Abbott in the foyer of The Australian or a statue of Campbell Newman and Joh Bjelke-Petersen in the foyer of The Courier Mail; where journalists begin their day by bowing to these statues and vowing to serve them through the course of their duties. Then there are those in the voting public who believe what the Liberal National Coalition say about how they understand business and are great for jobs and repeat it without question.

If you are creating a wealth of jobs, jobseekers must be just lazy…right?

When the LNP believe that they indeed are the best party for jobs and business, it then leads to a false dichotomy that those on unemployment must simply be lazy and that they simply don’t try enough.  Obviously the LNP are in charge, so of course there are plenty of jobs to apply for!

Based on this false dichotomy, the LNP’s approach to assisting the unemployed jobs is to starve community programs of funding and punish the hell out of jobseekers by implementing the worst jobseeker support program in Australia’s history “Job Active.”  Commentary on social media welfare sites from program participants, suggests that Job Active agencies are more focused on who they can get to pull out weeds for free under Abbott’s work for the dole program, than any real constructive assistance.

Commentary and anecdotes on social media also point to a system where there is no money to assist jobseekers find real work and assistance for study is not supported (unless it is pointless in-house training).  With the Newman Government’s changes to vocational education over the last three years coupled with the Abbott Government’s punitive Job Active program, Jobseekers living well below the poverty line must pay out of their own pocket up front costs or pay the course off, as there is no HECS or HELP deferral scheme for many vocational education courses. Those on welfare need to weigh up their options between being able to afford food and housing or an education.  As an Australian, I find this absolutely abhorrent and 100% unacceptable and this destroys this our way of life.

The Palaszczuk Labor Government has just delivered their first budget by Treasurer Curtis Pitt and have invested 34 Million to begin the repair of our vocational sector and TAFE, to provide real training options for jobseekers.  I hope that this will be extended to ensure affordable access for everyone who has the right to an education, including those on welfare payments.

Sadly, also on social media you read the stories of many jobseekers who are anxious, depressed, frustrated, upset and at times indirectly or directly discussing suicide or ‘not living anymore’ as an option.   This is how they are feeling as jobseekers under the Job Active program.  Some of the comments I have read and the stories collected by the Australian Unemployment Union are absolutely heartbreaking.   

Nothing like a bit of stigma to get those jobseekers moving

To degrade the unemployed even further, in some towns like mine you are given a Basic’s card.  Welfare recipients are given a cashless card and a small amount of cash.  This leaves the jobseeker with very little real money to make purchasing decisions with.  The Basics Card also seeks to stigmatise the jobseeker by giving them their own identifier which allows every shop assistant and member of the public at the checkout know that they are on welfare.  

Couple this with the rhetoric that comes from the agenda of stigmatisation from the Liberal Government such as backbencher Ewen Jones who said: “look there’s your dole, go home, eat Cheezels, get on the Xbox, kiss you goodbye and we will never see you again’?” Add the sensationalisation of welfare recipients on television and so called ‘current affairs shows’; welfare recipients using a basic card, will be seen automatically by some as no good, lazy, bludging welfare thieves. Terminology used by many avid Liberal supporters which places those on welfare in a criminal category. Welfare recipients are not often seen as human beings who desperately want and actively seek work. 

There is absolutely no option for those on welfare to blend in or not stand out as a recipient of welfare. This completely undermines the right to dignity and respect without judgement for so many Australians.  Under the LNP their reasoning is to shame you into finding a job every time you stand at the checkout. The other misunderstanding about the Basic’s card, is that it is available everywhere.   There are only a small number of shops and services which allow purchase with a basics card.  This often forces the jobseeker, living below the poverty line, to spend money at more expensive stores.  In some towns, they have no options at all. This places pressure on their already meagre budget.

So lets see….who should really be punished.  Is it the jobseeker or the Government?  I have completed an analysis of job vacancies in my local area of Central Queensland to find out.

Where have all the jobs gone…Long time passing

The availability of jobs is essential to a productive economy and enables the unemployed to actively apply for employment. Plentiful job vacancies also enable career development for the employed looking for jobs to advance their career.  This opens up lower level jobs for others to apply for. In many cases, highly skilled workers are stuck at the lower end of their professions and not moving on as there are no jobs available to apply for. This puts a constraint on jobseekers seeking entry level jobs. It also puts a constraint on highly skilled jobseekers who also find themselves in the employment queue and now find themselves pulling weeds under work for the dole.

The graph below is job vacancy data for Central Queensland from March, 2012 to January 2015 of the Newman LNP Government and the new Labor Government from Feb 2015 to May 2015. This is where the data availability ceases. There is no data available after May, 2015, but I will be providing follow ups as it comes to hand. (you can click the photo to enlarge). I have completed an analysis on Central Queensland for two reasons.  One is, it is the area I live in and I am very passionate about Central Queensland and the second is to bring some truth to light about how the Newman Govt affected regional areas.  Many believe that due to the Public Service cuts and media around protests, it was mainly Brisbane which had felt the impact. This is not so.

job vacancy growth decline blog

Some Interesting Facts that may get the way of a good LNP Yarn.

Interesting Fact Number 1.

An analysis of job vacancy data for the period of the LNP Newman Government shows a dramatic decline of job vacancies for Central Queensland.  Data available up until May, 2015 shows that in the first four months of the LNP Newman Government, Central Queensland Job vacancies declined by 378 vacancies.  After one year of the Newman Government, there were 1781.7 less job vacancies for Central Queenslanders to apply for. By the end of the Newman Government, there were 2198 less job vacancies advertised in CQ than when the LNP took office.

By comparison, in the first five months of the Palaszczuk Labor Government, Job Vacancies have turned around and job vacancies have increased by 218 jobs for the CQ region in this short time.

Interesting Fact Number 2.

The sharpest decline in job vacancies for any month-to-month period was the period of November to December 2012, which saw a 16% decline in one month for Job Vacancies for CQ jobseekers, under the LNP.

In comparison, the Palaszczuk Labor Government has achieved the highest increase of job vacancies for any month-to-month period for the CQ Region, over the last three years.  For the period from February to March 2015, Job Vacancies in Central Queensland saw a sharp increase of 16%This is the highest job vacancy increase for any month-to-month period, since March 2012.  In a few short months, the Labor Government has achieved what the Newman Government could not achieve in their entire period in office. That is, “to understand business and create jobs”  This is an absolute positive and speaks volumes of the quality of MPs within the Palaszczuk Government.  The graph below shows only job classifications with an increase of 20 job vacancies or more. This is not an exhaustive list.

increase Labor feb march

Interesting Fact Number 3

During the period of the LNP Campbell Newman Government, job vacancies in Central Queensland declined by 56%. To put this in real terms, that is 2198 job vacancies not open for Central Queenslanders to apply for under the LNP.  The graph below demonstrates the top 15 job classifications which experienced a decline in job vacancies over the period of the Newman LNP Government.  The only job classification which experienced an increase in job vacancies under the Newman Government were: Farmers and Farm manager (0.9 increase); Carers and Aides (9.2) Education Professionals (12.2 increase) and Medical Practitioners and Nurses (12.8 increase)  These figures are raw numbers, not percentages.  If we look at the success of the Newman Government for Central Queensland, their achievement is basically an increase of 35 job vacancies across four job classifications, and a decline in all other job vacancies for their entire period in Government.

job vacancy decline newman

 

Interesting Fact Number 4

In the first four months of the Newman Govt, job vacancies in Central Queensland fell by 10%.  In the first four months of the Palaszczuk Govt Jobs vacancies in central QLD increased by 13%

Are Jobseekers as Lazy as the LNP Claim them to be and should they be punished?

The term LNP has been used interchangeably throughout this post, meaning the Liberal National Coalition State and Federal. The LNP use a synthesis of blame and stigma to take the focus off their failings.  The LNP repeat the misguided rhetoric that they are ‘good for jobs’ without question and place blame on everyone else, including the unemployed.  As the data analysis of Job Vacancies for one area in Queensland show, the Abbott Government’s punitive approach is completely uncalled for.  The harsh welfare measures implemented do nothing but feed into the Abbott Government’s agenda of Stigmatisation of those on welfare.  Why? Because there are no better votes for the LNP those those created out of hate, disgust and fear.

My Conclusion?  If you want to starve a region of jobs.  Want to punish the unemployed unnecessarily. – Just vote for a Liberal National Government!

Stay tuned for more analysis drilled down on specific classifications and other nerd-filled data excitement!

Tony Abbott – The Warring Galah from Warringah

If there is one thing about Tony Abbott he loves a good fight.  He reminisces proudly of his boxing days and of his ‘sledging’ days of his youth; citing this as his only ability as a cricketer. “I couldn’t bat, I couldn’t bowl, I couldn’t field, but I could sledge….”  

He has a long history of attacking the Rudd & Gillard Governments as opposition leader.  He has forever ingrained in history a record of attacking Julia Gillard as a person and as a woman to the point Gillard felt compelled to give her famous misogyny speech.

For this inherent trait of his ability to attack, degrade, sledge and harm he is hailed as a great leader by those who are loyal to the destructive cause, I will refer to for the purpose of this article as, “The Liberal National Coalition Government.”

Born in England, it is obvious that his heart and head rest snugly within the bosom of the Motherland. Since becoming Prime Minister he has made a number of ‘Captain’s Calls.‘ He has brought back the outdated practice of awarding Knights and Dames and he has awarded Prince Philip a Knighthood (probably one of the most bizarre moments in our history).  

Abbott also ‘ignoramus-splained‘ Sydney to English Prime Minister David Cameron, by describing the history of Sydney as “nothing but bush” before British invasion and called pre-colonisation civilisation “extraordinarily basic and raw”.  

In addition, leading up to his Prime Minister-ship he has left behind an “England-Loving” rhetoric permeated within his speeches:

“Contemporary Australia has well and truly – and rightly – left behind the old cult of forgetfulness about our indigenous heritage. Alas, there is a new version of the great Australian silence – this time about the Western canon, the literature, the poetry, the music, the history and above all the faith without which our culture and our civilisation are unimaginable” (Tony Abbott, 2013 on promising to repeal S18c of the Racial Discrimination Act.)

And

“This is what the poet Tennyson meant when he described England as “a land of just and old renown, a land of settled government where freedom broadens slowly down from precedent to precedent”. At least in the English speaking tradition, liberalism and conservatism, love of freedom and respect for due process, have been easy allies.” (Tony Abbott 2013 on his thoughts on Freedom when he becomes Prime Minister)

It could be argued that as he touched down on our shores from England all those years ago, he looked down his nose at the uncouth Aussie yokels playing around the streets and his English brain interpreted “Ava-go-ya-mug” in quite a literal sense. From that day forth, he has made ‘ava-go-ya-mug’ his main aim.  Not to put in an effort as the Australian colloquialism suggests, but his literal interpretation to “Have a Go”.  From this day forth he has been shadow-boxing, and sledging and ‘having a go’ at almost anyone and anything.  However, he is quite resourceful. He cannot physically do this all on his own; so he has lit little fires all over the place, to ensure Australians are at war with each other. Let’s recap on this short 19 month history of squawking and leading through divide, conquer and stigmatisation.

…..and today, let’s take a look through the round window shall we………..

Stay at Home Mothers vs. Working Mothers.

Mothers have had to endure this war of work or stay at home, since mothers participated in the exchange of real money for their labour.  (I know, it is astounding for some that the labour of mothers can actually have monetary value when they do so much for free!)  In 2013, Abbott had put SAHM’s on a pedestal, promising them better incentives than the existing Labor Policy through the coalition’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.  He described the PPL as “A pro-child, pro-family, pro-growth policy.”  He also cited the PPL as the panacea for the discrimination that women do not experience in Australia.

“I don’t think women suffer legal discrimination and I don’t think anyone these days sets out to do the wrong thing but it is very difficult for women to combine work and family if they don’t have a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme and that’s going to change very soon under the Coalition.” (Tony Abbott, 3AW September, 2013).

Abbott has now dumped the PPL and favours working women, rather than stay at home women. Pitting these warring mothers against each other of who is the most deserving of Government support.

The Unemployed vs. The Ignorant

The Abbott Government has had an absolute field day with their agenda of stigmatisation of the unemployed. From implying they are lay-a-bout drug taking bludgers who must be tested, to proudly advocating that these lazy good for nothing loafers should #Starve4AMonth (previously known as #Starve4SixMonths).  This has created a public derogatory rhetoric from the ignorant who are convinced by this agenda of stigmatisation. Online we see a war where Jobseekers try to defend themselves from the barrage of insults fuelled by the Abbott Government’s narrative and policy agenda.

The Bigots vs. Muslims / The Bigots vs. The Left

The Abbott Government’s ‘War on Terror’ narrative and policy decisions have created quite a visual and vocal war between bigots and Muslims and bigots and the Left, with the Patriot movements now calling to ‘crush the left’ as well as vilify Muslims.  The leaders of these movements have even taken to supplying followers with free distance education into ‘Who the enemy is – The Left‘ and About the Left (Please watch these videos so you are enlightened by the absolute misunderstanding and confusion of political ideology as used in Australia, a general embarrassing stab at the underlying sociological constructs of the Left and some other weird conspiracy tidbits including the misuse of the Freemason’s symbol and a fat snowman-like capitalist). 

Muslim women have been attacked in public and there has been a rise of the far right movements such as Reclaim Australia, United Patriots Australia etc. These groups are egged on by the silence from the Government against the rise of these movements.  There have been violent clashes in the streets and more are to come.

The Government is purposely ignorant if it does not see how their narrative on national security inflames these movements.  The theme of the Abbott Government is Nationalism purported through ‘secret border security measures’ participating in abhorrent and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and now the argument to cancel dual citizenship at the whim of a Minister’s discretion. Why should these movements not believe they are above the law when the Government believes they are too?  

These movement are extreme movements.  They now are widening their ‘target group’ from Muslims expanding to include anyone associated with ‘the Left’.  This is a serious concern as not only are their arguments against Muslims very unsound; their attacks on people associated with the left (as you can see from videos posted above) are also fraught with extreme confusion of even the most basic political ideology. The next step will be to broaden the attack on more groups of people.  We have already seen beginnings of this with Indigenous people being attacked and derided.  Yes, we have seen this all before, somewhere around the time of the fall of the Weimar republic; yet Abbott appears to be enjoying this war as it gives voice to his Nationalism rhetoric of fear and disharmony. 

First Australians vs. People who arrived later

Despite being the self-proclaimed “Minister for Indigenous People” Abbott has also lit fires through his discourse relating to Aboriginal people.  He has cut funding to Aboriginal legal aid and other Indigenous organisations and proposing a ‘special Work for the Dole scheme 50 hours a fortnight, five days a week, 12 months of the year for remote Aboriginal communities. He supports the closure of remote Indigenous settlements and has infamously stated that ‘living in a remote community is a lifestyle choice.’  Through his actions and discourse, the conversation between Australians is not a positive one.  It is one where a war rages between Indigenous people, those who stand with Indigenous people and against those who believe through Abbott’s narrative that ‘Australia simply cannot afford the Nation’s First People’ and that Indigenous people are a burden to the taxpayer.

Men vs. Women

Yes, there is a war raging between men and women.  This war is not a general war, but it is specific to the issue of domestic violence.  Tony Abbott has given so many women a glimpse of hope that finally, yes finally in Australia women fleeing in terror from their partners will have some decent support and the expectation of a safe environment.  However, the glimpse was nothing more than that. This quickly turned into lip service as Abbott has continuously shut down debate and pulled funding from domestic violence and preventative services.  This has in turn seen a war rage between men and women as more and more women are voicing their stories and protesting online. Some men are quite indignant that they suffer domestic violence in the same manner and at the same prevalence or even more than women.  Male victims too are feeling ignored and not supported and the victims, both men and women are fighting each other instead of the Government.

Tony Abbott fuels this war by giving a glimmer of  hope and then taking it away. He has fuelled this war by not investing in research, not investing in preventative services, not ensuring positive debate is heard from both men and women and not investing in safe and supportive services for victims of domestic violence; which has left so many who were given a voice for just one moment, screaming out for help. 

It’s Time for the Warring Galah of Warringah to F….fly away
These are just a few examples of how the Warring Galah of Warringah is squawking his message of divisiveness and disharmony to the nation.  These are just a few examples of how he uses sledging to stigmatise minorities and how he uses policy and narrative to appeal to the emotions of those driven by fear and to entrench a Nationalistic psyche in the war on terrorism; and those who fear using their tax dollars to assist even the most desperate groups of people in society. 

These are just a few examples of how the Warring Galah of Warringah starts wars between Australians. Gough Whitlam used the phrase ‘It’s Time’ after a long period of stagnant conservatism within Australia. Yet, here we are just 19 months post election and we can see it is once again Time.  

It’s Time to bring back the Fair Go. It’s Time to bring back the hand up. Its Time to bring back togetherness and standing up for a mate. It’s Time for tolerance and friendship and It’s Time for uniting Australians as one and most of all It’s time for leadership with heart.

The Agenda of Stigmatization is alive and well in Budget 2015

Those who have followed my blog (thank you) will know that a main theme I have addressed in the 2014 Budget is the “Agenda of Stigmatization” by the Liberal National Coalition Government.  The Agenda of Stigmatization is alive and kicking in Budget 2015.  The targets? Women, single parents and working mothers.  

The stigmatization narrative of the Liberal National Government’s Budget 2015 is like a passive aggressive snarl, rather than the brazen punch to the face we received in 2014.

Rorters and Double Dippers

On The Insiders, ABC  (17/05/2015) Barry Cassidy interviewed Joe Hockey on a variety of budget related matters.   The first area that piqued my interest was the matter of Paid Parental Leave.  This policy assists parents, predominantly young women to care for their new born babies for a period prior to returning to work. This was hailed as a major initiative of the Coalition Government.  One where they built on Labor’s Paid Parental Leave Policy and had ‘achieved better and greater than Labor ever could, where it comes to women.’  In fact the coalition stated that:

The Coalition’s paid parental leave scheme will result in a woman earning the average full-time salary of around $65,000 receiving $32,500 – and they will be around $21,300 better off under the Coalition’s scheme relative to Labor’s scheme.

Tony Abbott also famously stated on 3AW in September, 2013, that

“I don’t think women suffer legal discrimination and I don’t think anyone these days sets out to do the wrong thing but it is very difficult for women to combine work and family if they don’t have a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme and that’s going to change very soon under the Coalition.”

So now they don’t have a “fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme” – what has the Coalition got to offer women?

Now the Coalition has back-flipped on this policy; stating the reason for the back-flip was that they have listened to the community.  Yes, the community needs reliable, affordable childcare, but not at the detriment of already hard fought for entitlements at work.

The negative narrative of parents, primarily women, being ‘rorters and double dippers’ is meant to stigmatise this group so the public believe that working mothers are getting more than their fair share. The Coalition would like the voting taxpayer to believe that mothers are essentially stealing the nation’s taxes.

The narrative here is set to stigmatise, so if they are returned to Government, there will be little outcry from the public, when they reduce or abolish Labor’s Paid Parental Scheme altogether.

Single Parents

Single parents, particularly single mothers are another favourite target group for the Liberal National Government’s agenda of stigmatisation.  We have already had in Budget 2014 attacks on FTB reducing family income for up to $6,000 per year and a the abolishment of FTB once a child has turned six.  In addition, return to work and education supplements, which have been vital in the past to transition single parents into work will also cease. These changes still need to be passed in the Senate and are now linked as savings, which will fund Childcare, in addition to savings found from those on Newstart under 25 having no income for one month.

When the Prime Minister and Minister for Women was challenged in Question Time about these cuts by Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, the Prime Minister accused Labor of supporting welfare as “pseudo-generosity. This is a prime example of the Coalition’s narrative that they see welfare as a ‘generosity’ to be given or taken away rather than an essential need.

Now we have the “Have A Go” Budget of 2015, where the Coalition ‘Has a Go’ at Single Parents by comparing apples and oranges to convince the public that Single Parents are not only having their cake and eating it too, but eating hard-working people’s cakes as well.  The message here is that single parents are greedy bludgers, who get more in hand-outs than a hard working voting taxpayer.

The following table was discussed on The Insiders, ABC Sunday 17 May, 2015.  Barry Cassidy queried Joe Hockey as to why it was necessary to compare the two.  Hockey’s response was that he thinks it is important to advise tax payers where their money is going.  (It is also interesting that the pictures on this graph pegs a single mother with two children against a hard-working single man.)

As you can see the “Age of Entitlement’ Graph demonstrates that a hard-working person working five days per week, is actually worse off than a sole parent with two kids.  This is a dynamic display of the ‘Lifters and Leaners” narrative we were accustomed to in 2014 although the actual words are not used in Budget 2015. The subliminal messaging is what is used to be effective here.

However, the graph does not take into account the cost of raising children, which I have added below:

joe single parents 3

As this table now shows, regardless of what the Coalition want you to believe, when you take into account the cost of raising children; a sole parent working part-time is not better off than a hard-working individual working five days per week on $80,000 per year.

As Barry Cassidy put to Joe Hockey “But you may be creating resentment though for no purpose” Of course, Joe Hockey disagreed and responded with “Why anyone would resent helping a single parent?”

After the last 18 months of stigmatizing those on welfare, including single parents; along with the Kevin Andrews’ mantra that married couples are more valued in society; this really speaks volumes of how out of touch Joe Hockey and the Coalition are.  Maybe the Treasurer should follow commentary on social media and main stream media to understand what many people think of those on welfare.

Joe Hockey knows and the coalition knows that their negative narrative about those on welfare for the past 18 months has already increased resentment.  Taking an under-handed swipe at single parents, whilst butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, is beyond reproach.

The narrative here is set to stigmatise, so if they are returned to Government, there will be little outcry from the public, when they make more harsh cuts to welfare and single parents in conjunction with a more Liberal friendly Senate.

The 2015 Budget has given little to no hope for those already doing it tough on welfare.  The Budget failed to deliver a vision for our future and has painted an even bleaker future for women.  It is essential that the vision we have for the future is to say “NO” to a Coalition Government at the next election and always, always, put Liberal & National last.

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

Let’s talk about privilege and single parents

singleThe Social Discourse and Welfare

Whilst doing my research for my most recent blog post,  I analysed a range of opinions throughout social media on the topic of contraception and welfare. Naturally, these threads across various pages gathered the opinions of those not on welfare and those who are. Comments on social media give one an insight into the thoughts of a wide and varied demographic.  Often thoughts on social media are contained to a particular thread on a particular topic; so it is always interesting to view the differences of opinion from many on that particular subject.  This is particularly evident when it is a newspaper forum, or another general page which attracts a diverse range of people.  People will group together on opinion and often there are long debates from those for or against a particular opinion. I love reading the opinions of people on social media, as narrative or discourse, gives us a glimpse of the social psyche. 

Social discourse is a key element to social change.  Many of the comments from people, as per my last blog post, painted those on welfare in a very negative light.  In fact, the ones highlighted were of the very strong view that those on welfare ‘should not breed.” The Liberal National Coalition (LNP) Government has a very strong discourse on punitive measures aimed to punish people on welfare and sets this standard, through their unfair cuts to welfare and treatment of jobseekers.

Newspapers and media also seem to slant their stories to the negative. There were many comments highlighting that Sunrise had posted the ‘welfare and contraception’ story three different times on their Facebook page. In my local regional newspaper today, there is an prominent article with the headline “Hard-working Australian culture fading away” which has a 20 year old mechanic front and centre telling people to ‘not cry poor and go out a get a job” and “I don’t believe for a second there’s no work out there”. 

This is in spite of the unemployment rate being 6.3% nationally, youth unemployment sitting nationally at 14% nationally and being as high as 29.3% in outback South Australia, 26.7% in south east Tasmania and 21.3% in Cairns.   This is also in spite of skills shortages in 2014 identified in specialized and professional fields as external auditor, surveyor, sonographer, phsysiotherapist, midwife, software engineer and construction estimator.  The jobs listed as skills shortages are not jobs that would be likely to match young people seeking employment, or unskilled jobseekers. This means that contrary to the social discourse occurring at present, job search is a highly competitive environment and those with little to no skills or experience, or who face any barriers to employment (including sole parenting), will find securing employment very difficult.

This does not even take into account age discrimination or Indigenous unemployment, which sits at 17.2% nationally and the Government’s changes to programs that will greatly affect this group. These changes show blatant changes which target people through race, which are discriminatory as compared to other parts of Australia. 

What about Sole Parents?

The blog post I researched most recently discussed the argument that ‘People on welfare should be forced to take contraception.’  Single mothers were certainly a group raised for discussion. In particular, young mothers featured prominently, as did women from certain suburbs in Australia and another prominent single mother group attacked negatively were those ‘assumed to be refugees’ or from an ethnic minority background or non-white people.

Single Parents have only had to seek employment as part of Mutual Obligation since the 2005 – 2006 Howard Budget. This has continued to be evolved by successive ALP Governments since 2007 and remains as a focus for the Abbott Government.   There have been calls from ACOSS that the inclusion of single parents in mutual obligation contravenes Human Rights Obligations.  I strongly agree with ACOSS, not only for the economic affects outlines, but especially for point 2, which discusses discrimination against women:

The Bill violates the rights of single parents to non-discrimination under Art 2, paragraph 2
of the ICESCR and Art 11(1)(e) of the International Covenant on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Since the majority of recipients are
women, they will suffer indirect gender discrimination should the Bill become law. In
addition, sole parent families, identified for special measures due to their greater
vulnerability, will suffer discrimination through the loss of these measures.

As I delved into people’s conversations on social media whilst researching my last blog post, I noticed something quite prominent and thematic with  young mothers and their arguments.  I was becoming increasingly aware of the amount of young women (single mothers) who felt the need to defend their space in society. These young women felt the need to list every single effort they make to work in paid work, volunteering, job search or furthering their education through study or training.  Often, they would write a long list of work and study they were doing at the same time, as well as caring for their child or children.

What this is saying to me, is that young mothers and single others feel the need to ‘reaffirm’ or establish themselves in the eyes of the privileged (those not a single parent) to be deemed worthy or accepted in society.  My position is difficult here as I can only view the conversation and not seek clarity or construct any dialogue with these young mothers to further develop understanding; but I feel that these young mothers feel that there are societal pressures that say that being a mother 100% of of the time is not enough as set by the standards of society and in the eyes of those who view them as ‘sole parents.’

One theme that was quite prominent was when young mothers did list the whole range work or study activities they were undertaking as well as motherhood, people congratulated them on their efforts and ‘becoming a productive citizen.’  The comments resonated that being a mother was not being a productive citizen. Raising other little good citizens is being a productive citizen in itself.

I for one second do not take away any single parent’s choice to undertake any activities to better their future for employment etc., The key word there being choice. However, I question the need that there may be mothers who feel they cannot be a mother only, due to the strong social narrative that drives this pressure, which is enabled by the Government view of single parents. Something afforded by privilege to those who have this choice in a partnered relationship. I know many may argue that even women in partnered relationships need to go to work; but if a woman strongly wanted to be at home, they have the choice, through that partnership to adapt their lifestyle, so this can be supported on one wage in many cases.  The fact of the matter is single parents do not have this choice even to contemplate, as that second wage is simply not there.

Some of the privileges afforded by those in partnered relationships or single people with no children, who set to condemn single parents are thus:

  • Single parents do not have the option to share the workload.
  • Single parents often have to do more than partnered parents, as all work, child raising and decision making are their sole responsibility
  • Single parents bear the brunt of sole financial responsibility.  If they get sick, there is no second wage to fall back on.
  • There are forced expectations by the Government of mutual obligation on single mothers or fathers that is not enforced onto partnered mothers or fathers.
  • There is a great social stigma still towards, particularly single mothers being a purposeful burden on the system
  • Economic burdens, not affording take away, making all food, not affording childcare, or adequate medical care, including dental as compared to middle to upper classes
  • There is a great social stigma about child spacing for single parents “they just pop another one out when the youngest turns six” Child spacing is a privilege afforded to partnered parents.
  • Single parents have more likely high instances of low self-efficacy and low self-esteem than partnered parents
  • Illness is a privilege afforded to those in partnered relationships. A single parent who falls ill still has to maintain all responsibilities
  • There are many labor market constraints for single parents, including transport, available education, flexible work hours. In some cases partnered parents may face these barriers, but they have another partner to work with to reduce these barriers.
  • Often stigma is also with the ex-wife/ex-partner that if the father is raising them, there is something wrong with the mother, but that is rarely questioned about the father
  • Fathers are often perceived as heroes and pitied for abandonment, women are scorned, slut shamed etc.,
  • In most cases the onus of blame is placed on the woman in a relationship breakdown.
  • Single mothers experience stigma with employment, housing, applying for benefits, and community assistance afforded to most partnered couples (racial and disability discrimination acknowledged)
  • Balancing custody and career.  Often promotion means more work and more time away from family sole parents, both male and female risk custody if they are not seen to provide enough care an attention to the child/ren through absence to the home.  This is intensified if the other parent has another new partner who can does paid work. There is little research if this is more particularly burdensome for single mothers or single fathers. Career and progression is something afforded to parents in a partnered relationship, without the risk of losing custody of their child/ren.

I will break out of the bullet points to direct attention to one that I am most passionate about.  I will speak to this for mothers only.  I would value input from how single fathers see this in the comments below.

Forced removal of the right to care for children.

Due to the mutual obligations forced upon single mothers by the Government, single parents have no choice but to have another person spend critical and valuable time with their child.  They do not have the option that this may be the person they are in an intimate relationship with as a privilege afforded to partnered mothers who desire to return to work and have a stay at home father. Single Mothers are forced to pay strangers to spend critical and valuable time and input in the rearing of their child.  Not only does this take away from critical and valuable parenting time, but places an extra financial burden on women as it cuts into money earned from employment. 

This also places an additional burden on women fleeing domestic violence relationships and fleeing violent partners. It forces a woman to be engaged in employment (sometimes with no phone contact as enforced by the employer’s rules) and it creates more worry, stress and strain on a woman already experienced heightened anxiety and concern for the safety of herself and her children.

I find this absolutely abhorrent that this choice is taken away from single parents by force, rather than by choice.  It takes away one of the most important and most treasured days of a woman’s life by force.

Single Fathers

Although the majority of single parents are mothers, single fathers make up 12% of single parents in Australia.   Single fathers also face particular burdens based on how society positions gender and parenting, based on the notion that only women are the natural nurturers and men are the breadwinners.

  • Single fathers are the loneliest and socially isolated of all types of household situation.
  • Single fathers are deemed incompetent by others, due to the ingrained belief that women are the natural caregivers and nurturers.
  • As per listed above, it is also unfairly assumed that the father is not the best option for care of the child, but must be by default. Society seeks to lay blame on either the mother primarily, and pities the father, but does not ever assume that this may be an amicable solution or what has been decided as a matter of choice between the former partnered parents.
  • Single fathers have generally lower self esteem and depression issues than men in other households
  • Affect on single fathers with balancing work choice, decision making, key provisions for the family, restrictions in childcare availability and shift work for many labouring / trades jobs

Gay and Lesbian single parents – there is more of a story to be told.

There is also appears to be an absence of research on single parents from a breakdown of a same sex relationship.  Statistics included for single parents are inclusive of gay and lesbian parents as statistics do not specifically also target sexual preference.

There appears to be an abundance of literature on same sex parenting as a dual couple. However, the absence of literature on gay and lesbian single parents, makes for a gap in understanding the full picture of single parents and their lived experiences.

Government Responses

The Howard Government in 2005-2006 budget papers set forth the foundation for including single parents in mutual obligation.   Successive ALP Governments since, have not sought to enable single parents by repealing this legislation, but have sought to tighten this legislation and provide even more restrictions and obstacles for single parents.

The Abbott Government’s response is hinged on ‘family values’ but defines this family as the predominantly white, dual parent family, with more than likely Christian values.   Often classified as “The traditional family.”  This is not representative of all families in Australia.

The Abbott Government has injected 20 million to “strengthen relationships and help improve personal and family well-being—it makes social and economic sense.” Because, you know single parents are a burden on society and a factor for social decline.

The Abbott Government has chosen to fund only Christian Chaplains in schools as a pastoral mechanism. Christian Chaplains would only advocate for traditional heterosexual relationships and traditional forms of family through marriage.

There is a lack of investment from the Abbott Government on Domestic Violence and funding for shelters and other programs for both women and men and an absence of understanding of the need for shelters for men who have experienced domestic violence or intimate partner violence.

There is an agenda of stigmatisation from the Abbott Government for those on welfare, adding to the layers of stigmatisation experienced by single parents, indigenous, the disabled, immigrants, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and people in other minority groups.

Where to from here

If this blog post has resonated with others, I would encourage everyone to write to the Government and to both the ALP and the Greens to advocate to have mutual obligation as a forced measure removed from single parents and be implemented as a voluntary measure only, with no penalties.

One of the reasons behind me writing this blog post, was that I get so disheartened from reading harsh and judgemental comments from those in a position of privilege.   The other reason was that I really want people to start assessing their own narrative when it comes to passing judgement of others on welfare.

The Abbott Government through their agenda of stigmatisation has really created a strong narrative to enable and encourage others to stigmatise those on welfare.  If you oppose the Abbott Government, but contribute to this stigma by adding your voice, you are really supporting the Abbott Government by becoming a part of their agenda.  Their agenda for stigma is strong as it paves the way for even more harsh cuts and unfair treatment of the disadvantage as the discourse becomes more widely sociably acceptable.

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

Let’s stop those welfare bludgers from breeding or Eugenics 101!

no pregnancyThe topic of conversation across many pages on Facebook, across newspaper forums and even current affairs shows has been a statement from ex-ALP Minister Gary Johns

Former Labor Minister Gary Johns suggests linking the dole to contraception.”

The comments from a wide and diverse range of people regarding this topic has certainly been an eye opener.

Firstly, I need to get something off my chest….. I find it absolutely remarkable, that an overtly sexist comment from an “Ex-ALP Minister” hits the headlines three days after the polls screamed loudly that Tony Abbott is falling out of favour with women.  Now call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but I do find that linking an extremely sexist and controversial statement to the ALP three days after polling highlighted that women would rather #putyourironout rather than vote for Abbott again, an attempt at political strategy by the right. #diversion.

John’s originally wrote his article as opinion for The Australian and they labelled John’s as an ‘ex-ALP’ Minister whereas the Australian Newspaper could have labelled him either senior fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA)  (Abbott linked right-wing think tank) or the Associate Commissioner of the Commonwealth Productivity Commission from 2002 – 2004 under the Howard Government.   I find it interesting that the Murdoch press chose to link John’s to the ALP instead, although he hasn’t been a Minister of the ALP and has been critical of the ALP since at least 1996.  The Australian may as well have gone onto social media and asked some random their sexist opinions on welfare and contraception.

Which takes me to my next point. I have taken a selection of comments via Facebook, across various pages and groups.  This is just a small sample and if you could quantify the negative comments supporting this argument, I would estimate it was approximately 70% (in favour) 30% (not in favour) across the board.   The narrative in this country is something that we need to look at a lot more closely.

Some of the themes from those on social media go something like this (hit it)

Only the rich should breed (or why I shouldn’t exist)

Facebook Comment: “Still my point is valid…. There are other ways to prevent people from having children! Sterilisation is a good one! Some people have children completely dependant (sic) on the government… Those people need to be told NO!”

According to this Facebook User (and many like this person) I should not exist.  You see, my father was an invalid pensioner (completely dependent on the Government) and my mother on the wife’s (carer’s) pension.  So going by what this person is saying, because my father had a disability and mum looked after him, she should have been sterilized.  This is the type of person who would vote for a Government to forcibly sterilize a woman because that woman is not ‘their ideal woman who should be breeding.’   But give her a job and she will be Mother of the freaking year!

In fact, with this line of thinking, I should not exist and neither should my two sisters or three brothers.  Why? Because we are not the product of a ‘born to rule’ ideology that salivates at the thought of social cleansing, where only those ‘not in need’ have a space in society? This person and many commenting like this person, obviously dream of a society, where the ‘undesirables’ (aka those on welfare) are left to rot or be eliminated altogether.

What these sort of people don’t understand is when you have kids and you are on welfare, it is usually the mother who goes without to accommodate the needs of the children.  People just make do with what they have. They don’t scream and ask for more to live a wealthy lifestyle.

Bludgers and deadshits (Or how those with privilege seek to label the disadvantaged)

Facebook Comment:  How anyone can disagree with this is beyond me. Bums breeding more bums! And so the cycle will continue.

and this gem

Facebook comment: What about the rights of children not to be born to deadshit parents?

According to this Facebook user all children of welfare recipients should be cast aside as ‘Bums’ before they are even given a chance in society.   In my own lived experience as a child of welfare, every single one of us has gone on to achieve a full and productive life.   I have worked in Management across private, public, community, vocational and higher education sectors. I have gone on to postgraduate education and also have a partially completed PhD which may or may not ever get finished.  My brothers and sisters have all worked in either a professional capacity or in management.   We all have families and children.   My family is not a unique example. Many great leaders have also come from very poor backgrounds.   To deny a child a life, because others seek to cleanse society of children not born to “Women of Calibre” is beyond the sickest ways of thinking.

What people like this do not understand, is that there is more to life than money.  Sure, we lived in commission, didn’t eat fancy meals, but the values that our parents instilled in us, cannot be bought with money.  How one parents is not governed by how much money someone has. In fact, there was more love in my home growing up, than what I had witnessed in some of my much better off friends homes growing up.   Turn to any Youth Agency and you will also see that young people who need assistance come from a wide and diverse background. Not just welfare.

This type of person believes that people born into welfare are Bums or their parents are ‘deadshits’ and have nothing to contribute. Please tell that to Oprah Winfrey and J.K. Rowling, just two successful women with links to welfare.

Culling of Humans (or Eugenics and the sick mind in favour of it)

Facebook Comment: Besides there needs to be a cull of the human race anyway. Weeding out bottom feeders bogans just plain right pieces of crap from society.   This is why we have such a f u ked (sic) up society because of all the bottom feeders who have kids that dont (sic) bring them up with morals and values respect this is why there is alot  (sic) of kids on the dole its (sic) all they know (Just imagine the punctuation is there. You can do it!).

and this gem

Facebook Comment: Agreed. The rats have a screw and produce a rat might be different size whatever u still breed a rat a bottom feeder (Once again, use your magical powers so this makes freaking sense!)

Once again, we have the mentality that thinks Eugenics are a fine thing to implement in society.  Do these people really believe that only a certain ‘type’ of person should be allowed to have children?  Do they really believe that the Government should have the right to stop the bloodline of those that are in need of social supports?

The rat comment is also even more chilling, as the Jews were referred to as rats during the Holocaust, a time where there were those that thought a blond haired blue eyed race was the only race that should exist.

What these people do not realise is, if Eugenics, Social cleansing or the likes were adopted, there will always be someone ‘at the bottom of society’ and that person could very well be you.

Then we move on to the ‘related topics’ that show how people’s mind link other negative societal behaviors to those on welfare.

Those drug-addled welfare recipients (or how to stigmatised those already stigmatised through negative association)

Facebook Comment: Totally agree and don’t forget to drug test as well

This comment is actually from a person who is well known in a certain town and aspires to be a Lord Mayor. You know – making decisions about people and their lives in an entire region/community.  As Keating said, “God help us….God help us.”

This type of (let’s face it) brainless idiot, touts this sort of rubbish, because it gives them a sense of self-importance. The problem is it only feeds the ego and not the brain, as statistics on drug use are completely contrary to what this person is implying.  This type of person seeks to further stigmatise the already stigmatised in society, as it makes them feel so much above everyone else when in reality, they are the lowest of the low.

I won’t go any further into this one, as I have already published two articles on this topic of welfare and drug testing.

Drug Testing and the LNP’s Ongoing Stigmatization of the Poor  and The LNP’s agenda for welfare. A clarification of what drug testing really means

Those heathen young girls who have babies (or how to slut-shame women because you are a judgemental moron)

Facebook comment: Dude it’s what is happening. It’s not only adults popping kids out now a days it’s teenagers. You walk in to centrelink and there’s 16 year olds sitting every where with kids on there hip

It always fascinates me how people specifically target young women who are mothers as the primary burden, almost a parasitic burden on society. It also fascinates me that although we now have Google and no longer need to trawl through the Funk and Wagnells, people just can’t be bothered checking facts before they open their bigoted mouths.

Only 10% of lone mothers are aged 15 – 24 and the peak group for lone mothers is age 35-44 years of age and the major contributor to sole parenting is the break down of marriage. 12% of sole parents are men, and are usually over 35. Doesn’t this indicate to people that if a relationship breaks down for a younger woman, that it is the younger woman who is most likely left to care for the baby? Let’s not target and label bright, young enthusiastic women, because they have the extra responsibility of sole motherhood. They have much to contribute to society.

Having a child out of wedlock is not a crime and the only people who are bastards are the people who think this way.

After reading comments across so many different forums yesterday; it is quite evident that the Australian narrative needs to be scrutinised further and Australians themselves need to be openly challenged in their thinking.  If we did not have the safety net of unemployment benefit, what impact would this have on the economy? It could be assumed that most people would keep spending to a minimum so they could support themselves in the event of job loss.   So many people are so judgemental, yet, never question the tax payer funded benefits of big business, but feel it is just and moral to kick the boot in to the already disadvantaged. The derogatory vilification of people in dire circumstances, simply needs to stop. To quote my most favourite politician Anthony Albenese:

It’s time for a more serious debate on welfare – one that goes beyond dog whistling and demonisation of the poor

One theme very evident through all the comments, is that taxpayers feel they have some type of ‘ownership’ over the lives of those on welfare. Kind of like the Master / Slave mentality. It is quite appalling really, that these people think they can dictate to others how they can live their lives.  Most people who are on welfare at one point in their lives, have contributed to a tax system, which is used to pay for welfare.  For those that never have and never will pay, it is the duty of the Government of this country to ensure that these people are supported and they simply do not deserve the disrespect dished out to them.

(taken from a Facebook user on the Sunrise thread) I will end with this post with his comment:

Facebook Comment: Some of you seem to think that unemployment benefit isn’t a right… well, you are not correct. It’s right there in Hansard.

menzies welfare

(He sounds NOTHING like the Liberals of today – who are these people?)

The LNP’s new talent – How to disable people with a disability.


abbott disabilityKevin Andrews has announced that anyone seeking to access the disability support pension, will now be required to see an independent doctor prescribed by the Government, and recommendations from family doctors will no longer be allowed to assess people for the disability pension.

The LNP has effectively taken away the right of choice for people with a disability.  All Australians expect a fair go, a right to choose. However, this is now no longer the case if you have a disability. Someone will make this choice for you. For those with a disability who do not need an advocate; who can make their own decisions.  For those who need an advocate, this is taking away the right to choose, through denying the choices that the advocate can make on their behalf.  This is a blatantly disabling people with a disability, rather than enabling them.

This also strikes me as so raw and so insensitive not even a week after the passing of Stella Young. Stella Young, if anything, taught us that we should treat all people with disabilities as human beings. Taking away someone’s right to choose does not treat a person as a full human being. Kevin Andrews (as all neo-liberals do) is purely focused on money and not the welfare of the person, nor is he focused on client outcomes for a person seeking the disability pension.  Scott Morrison inheriting this portfolio, will contribute a ‘show no mercy’ approach to this situation.

In plain Australian English: The LNP does not give a stuff about people with a disability and how they should be treated.

One of the most concerning risks is that if the correct outcome for a person with a disability is not achieved, this will result in that person being moved to Newstart.  This person will then receive less money and will further exclude a person with a disability from accessing social inclusion activities, transport and even better choice of housing to name a few.  Once again, the underlying message of the Government for welfare recipients is “they are liars and cheats and we must stop them.”

Through this agenda of stigmatization and segregation of welfare recipients, the LNP Government aims to use this stigma and marginalization, so major cuts to welfare and even full closure of some services will result in little resistance from voters.   Everything about the LNP is underpinned by cuts, cuts and more cuts, as demonstrated even more today with cuts to housing advocacy and homeless programs, programs for the blind, deaf and acquired brain injury also losing critical funding.

Lisa Gunder’s article, Immoral and un-Australian: the discursive exclusion of welfare recipients, discusses the narrative / agenda set by political leaders since Howard.  The focus on the welfare agenda in the Howard era, when Abbott was Minister for Employment; set to recontextualise ‘have a go’ and ‘the protestant work ethic’ (as part of our national identity) within the welfare discourse.  In an analysis of Australian identity, the ‘Australian way of life’ features strong connections with hard work the middle class and a protestant work ethic.  From Howard to Abbott, they have used this ‘accepted view of our way of life’ strongly within speeches and narratives about welfare; to change how Australians see those who are truly disadvantaged. 

The other most prominent issue that Gunder raises, is that in Howard and Abbott’s speeches, they highlight the success of the ‘in-group’ (non-welfare recipients) and mitigate the achievements of the out-group (welfare recipients).  In simple terms, they purposely avoid highlighting achievements of welfare recipients and focus on the negative.  This sets in place an agenda for stigmatization.

It is through this narrative, that has been used and built on since the Howard years, which sets the tone for stigmatization and paves the way for further cuts and punitive measures for welfare recipients.   If you reflect on the timeline, the progression of this negative narrative has extended from the unemployed, to the single parent, aged pensioners and veterans and now the Government believes its narrative has been accepted sufficiently by the ‘in-group’, that harsh and punitive measures for those on a disability will be accepted by the ‘in-group’ or mainstream Australia. In simple terms, the Abbott Government sees punishing people with a disability as a ‘vote winner.’  As Australians, we should strongly see this as a failure to our national identity.

It is simply not good enough for the ALP and Greens and any other party who opposes these measures and this narrative to simply say ‘it is not OK.’  A narrative has been built since Howard’s arrival at the podium in 1996; that has gradually been listened to and accepted by Australians that “it is fine to punish the ‘out-group (aka welfare recipients).'”   

As ‘punitive measures and harsh treatment’ are now the norm within welfare; the ALP and Greens need to create a very strong narrative and create a new discourse which places welfare recipients at the heart of the “A Fair Go” and speak loudly and strongly of not only achievements, but of compassion and humanity and how and why we should unequivocally provide assistance for those in need’.  

It is essential for the progress of Australia to remain silent on any narrative punishing those on welfare and the disadvantaged and to reject and refuse to create a welfare out-group through stigmatization.  

We must move forward and change the narrative completely to build up the strength of our people, through true mateship, kindness and a fair go.   Only then, will we all have freedom of ability, freedom of choice, true inclusiveness and a greater participation in work and society by all.

Gunders, L 2012, ‘Immoral and un-Australian: the discursive exclusion of welfare recipients’, Critical Discourse Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-13

The Myth about Jobseekers & the Government’s Poverty Agenda

Letter to the Editor of The Morning
Bulletin 16/05/2014

During the election campaign Ms. Landry reassured voters that she knew what it was like to struggle. She could empathise with battlers and she understood their plight. I now wonder if Ms. Landry’s understanding of ‘battler’ is the same as mine and many others in this community.

After the budget announcement, I turned my thoughts to the people who make up this great community that I grew up in.  Ms. Landry’s Government’s focus is to treat with extreme harshness, the disadvantaged in this community. People under 25 will not receive any assistance, unless they are enrolled in a study or employed.  If they don’t they will have no income. Food, clothing and shelter will not be a viable option.  No money to even purchase personal hygiene products. No money to give them even a skerrick of dignity.

According to the 2011 census data, in Capricornia we have 19,786 people between 15 and 25. Of the 13 253 Young people in the Labour force, 1,149 are jobseekers. That is an 8.4% youth unemployment rate in Capricornia, based on 2011 figures. However TMB reported in February that the current youth unemployment figure is 13.6% for 15 – 24 year olds. Therefore the following figures would be expectedly worse based on current data. If we look at entry level jobs, according to vacancy data for March for CQ, there were 949 vacancies across, entry level jobs. Even if this group were all job-ready (which many are not) and secured a job, 200 young people in this region would have no income at all. However, this group are competing with 1,905 unemployed persons across other age brackets, who most likely have more experience. Therefore, hundreds of Capricornian young people will be destitute, homeless and starving.

Census data for 2011 stated that 3060 were seeking work in Capricornia and the vacancy figures for CQ for March show there were 2433 vacancies, across all areas.  Considering 1466 of these vacancies are for experienced and qualified jobseekers, this makes the employment search for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged a terrifying impossibility for some. I never thought I would ever live in a country where the Government imposes poverty on its citizens.  Ms. Landry, you are a part of that and the people who voted for you are also now part of that. Albeit inadvertently. If you had been honest with this electorate about these cuts, would LNP still hold this seat today?

Could TMB interview Ms. Landry about what she is going to do for people in this community who will fall down the cracks and live in abject poverty?  What are her plans for job creation?  How will she respond to the increase in need to access charity services? How will she respond if the crime rate goes up?  What do the victims of this budget focus on as their hope, when all hope is taken away?

Our only real hope is if the Senate blocks supply and this vindictive, cruel and heartless Government is dissolved and we go back to the polls.

The LNP’s agenda for welfare. A clarification of what drug testing really means.

drugs lnp

This is a follow on from my previous blog post Drug Testing and the LNP’s ongoing stigmatization of the poor. After quite a large ongoing debate on Twitter and in comments yesterday, I wanted to clarify some points.

Here is the link to the news story relating to the previous blog post. Now we have mandatory drug testing being flagged for people in receipt of unemployment benefits. For those who haven’t caught up yet.

There were many comments following my last blog post, including quite a debate on Twitter. I am writing to clarify some comments and also the reason I have concerns with this move by the Government.

To answer some of the questions – Have I been drug tested? Who cares? No one’s business. What is my personal experience with drugs? Who cares? No one’s business.  Why are you “Pro-Drugs?” Um… I’m not.

I have found these Questions on twitter and in comments a bit weird. I’ve copped some odd questions in the past 24 hours, from those who support the drug testing of recipients of unemployment benefits.

Amongst other reasons, my passion for writing this story comes from two incidents when I worked in recruitment years ago. As we know many sites do pre-employment drug testing. There were a few times where people failed and they gave heads up prior to the test. When you do work in recruitment, you learn not to judge people as the most unlikely stereotypes have come back with a negative screen. This is what the Government is trying to do. Maintain a discourse and public perception of stereotypes – negative stereotypes.

Two incidents remain with me. One was a young lad who was on injections for a psych disability. He was well managed and was already working and was looking for a better job. He was a suitable applicant and the employer liked him and asked for the pre-employment testing to be done. He said he had trouble before with tests and had a letter from the hospital. He came back positive for three drugs (one was not THC, which is the most common negative screen). I remember one was amphetamines. The employer refused to take him (although he did have a letter) and the biggest one of all was the tester at the lab (the head tester, as I’d asked to go to the top) specified there was no way of knowing if he was on illicit drugs as well as injections and medications for psych illness. So no support from the lab to give to the employer. The employer said, even if he could, it would never get through head office. He was not hired. He left dejected, but understood as he was already used to misconceptions about who he was and had already experienced this before.

The other incident was another person who returned positive for THC (marijuana) . He and his wife were in tears insisting they were good people and had never ever taken any drugs. They were visibly shocked. He said that the night before he had gone to a club and his friends were smoking in the toilets. He said he was not. He said he didn’t even have a drink as he was designated driver (there was a lot of anxiety going on at this time – as I said he was nearly in tears, his wife was in tears). Once again the employer wouldn’t take him. Once again, I approached the tester and once again the head tester and they said passive intake is like a million to one. Highly unlikely. I approached my manager. She told me not to be so naive and had a laugh. I had a gut feeling this man was telling the truth, but my hands were tied. I convinced the employer to allow him to take a follow up test. I think it was the next day or the day after, he come back with a negative screen and got the job. He was there for longer than I was at the recruitment company and feedback was always good. (I also followed up and asked my own doctor about this and my doctor did not agree with the lab tester and said that passive inhalation for a positive screen can occur.)

The reason why I am passionate about this, as I have worked across all types of recruitment, private labour hire, Government Job Search and disability employment. I have worked with all different types of employers and all different types of job seekers, and I have seen inequity and unfairness in recruitment & selection, including drug testing.  As you can see in both examples given, the testers only look at the screen and don’t support any other reasoning for why. It doesn’t measure frequency. THC can show up for up to two weeks to a month for regular user of marijuana.  People will have their income revoked if the same thing happens to them. People will have their income revoked, even if they didn’t purchase said drug, but participated in a ‘recreational’ or ‘experimental’ activity for the first time. They will have a record as a ‘drug addict’

My previous blog post isn’t about drugs. My blog post is about the Government setting down rules that are ideal to them of what is good behaviour and deviant behaviour from their viewpoint.

For those that missed the message of my previous blog post, let me clarify:

      • It is about shaping society to believe that people on welfare are the most prominent group of drug users (deviant behaviour).
      • It is about the Government convincing the public that people on welfare are indeed deviants who waste tax payer dollars.
      • It is about shaping public opinion of ‘deviates’ to further attack the welfare system, payments and social supports. (How well has this worked for the the Government, in opposition and now on Asylum seekers).
      • It is about the Government’s outlook to attack minority groups and disadvantaged groups and not support them.
      • It is about the Government’s focus on punitive measures rather than preventative or support measures.
      • It is about reducing welfare, but implementing a costly measure to target certain groups, to change public perception.
      • It is about the insincere approach to the problem, as it is about cutting benefits and not referral for treatment.
      • It is about the Government knowing that some people will not have the self-efficacy to fight against unfair treatment.
      • It is about implementing a measure that has the potential to be ‘private’ so the LNP will not ‘discuss ‘on-drugs’ matters” They will merely say “it is working”
      • It is about the further stigmatization of people with a disability, as Australian statistics show a high number of illicit drug users have a co-morbidity of mental illness.
      • It is about the Government’s attempt to permeate our country with neo-liberalist ideology. The main aim is to be hands off, to privatise, deregulate, remove Government supports and set an agenda that people are equal and free to form their own relationships and pave their own way. We know in society this is not true for all people. We know in society, there are those that need support and assistance.

For those who say false positives hardly ever happen. This is why my previous blog post, addresses false positives. They may not happen every time, but there is an abundance of research in this area to support that they do happen. My two examples show that false positives affect real people, affecting real lives. In one town, in Australia, over a period of six months. Imagine this occurring on a wider scale.

We can clearly see from this agenda is that there is a risk of innocent people being taken off income, unfairly. We can see that there will be people stigmatized through this testing. We can see that there will be people who do not have the self efficacy to use the complaints process (example 1) and some that do (example 2). We can see that the person who did not have the self efficacy to use the complaints process had a co-morbidity of mental illness.  There will be people without a co-morbidity of a mental illness, who also will not have the self efficacy to use the complaints process. Especially those who have had negative experiences in the past with raising complaints and some who feel it is too complicated or may be fearful it may hurt them in the future.

For those that say that “most people I know on welfare are on drugs” or “They sell drugs outside centrelink.” There are also many who do not take drugs and need benefits to survive. There may be drug dealers outside your centrelink, but I haven’t heard of that in my town. However, I was approached in the laundromat once. Maybe people who need to wash their king sized doona at the laundromat are all drug users….not!

Australian statistics show that of illicit drug users 24% cite unemployed as their labour force status. 76% of drug users take up the other labour force status groups.  More interesting is the stats on socio economic status, which have for the most recent illicit drug users is 15% average across all groups. This clearly states that the highest socio economic status has exactly the same use experience as those in the lowest and middle socio economic groups.  So for those already convinced that nearly all those on welfare are all on drugs. The facts do not support your delusions.

The biggest frustration I have found in the last 24 hours within this debate, was that ‘people are off Tony’, ‘the Liberals are on the nose’ but so many still do not get what this party is about. They still do not ‘get’ the agenda of this Government.

Things I predict we can look forward to, if this gets through:

        • Further reduction in monetary support for those on welfare
        • Further extension of unpaid labour not supported by the protections of minimum wage and workplace health and safety.
        • An extension to other welfare groups, pensions etc., to drug testing
        • A higher forced take up of the basics card or a shift to food stamps
        • An increase in crime
        • An increase in poverty
        • A move towards removing minimum wage (as so many unemployed could be employed if we removed this red tape)
        • A move towards removing fairness clauses in the fair work act
        • A move back to individual agreements and the abolishment of collective bargaining and awards.

and most importantly

      • It is a move towards pockets of society screaming about the scum of the earth drug addled welfare recipients and how Labor can’t control them and how the Liberals have them ‘under control’

Before you think this is just about controlling drug use for people on welfare, or to stop people on welfare wasting tax payer dollars; please consider the above points as part of a whole agenda.

That is it from me, but feel free to add any more. I hope this clarifies that I am not ‘Pro-Drugs’ I am “Anti-Stigmatization” “Anti-Neo-Liberalism” and “Pro-Fairness” and “Pro-Support”.

 

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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