$39 a day isn't the whole story

Published: Comments:
Australian Government Community Familes Money & Finance

When I tell people that I survive on $39 a day to cover rent, bills, food and all other essentials, they often react with horror. 

But believe me, the dollar figure doesn't even begin to tell the story. It doesn't tell you how it feels to plan what meals you'll skip that week, or to choose between having your phone cut off or delaying another doctor's appointment. 

And it sure as hell doesn't tell you what it's like for people like me to wake up to Murdoch front pages championing yet another government policy designed to vilify and humiliate us. 

But earlier this week, our new Social Services Minister, Paul Fletcher, reached a new low. Standing before a room full of people telling him what it's like to survive on Newstart, Minister Fletcher went on the attack. 

He not only told us his government wouldn't even consider raising Newstart, he actually bragged about having slashed spending on social services and denied that economic inequality is on the rise.1 

I'm sick and tired of people like me being used as a political punching bag. That's why today I'm asking you to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those of us who are locked out of paid work, and be part of the fight back. 

Can you add your name to the petition demanding that politicians raise Newstart and lift people like me out of poverty? 

The level of income support in this country is dismal – but in many ways the dollar amounts aren't the most difficult thing we face. 

I wake up every day worried about the next attack – the next fraudulent robodebt letter, the next pointlessly humiliating "work-for-the-dole" activity, the next unfair "demerit point" penalty that strips away the income I need to survive. 

Across this country, there is just one full-time job vacancy for every four people looking for full-time work.2 And yet successive governments, spurred on by the Murdoch press, act as though being locked out of paid work is some sort of personal failure. 

We need to break the cycle of these attacks and send our politicians a powerful message. And what better way to do that than thousands of people adding their names to the petition, demanding Newstart be raised out of poverty? 

Click here to sign a petition calling on the Government to raise Newstart and lift thousands of Australians out of poverty. 

The 700,000 people on Newstart have families, friends and a broad coalition of allies. We know how unliveable our social security system is – and we vote. 

We don't need pity when we have real electoral power. 

Right now the Greens, and the entire lower house crossbench support raising the rate of Newstart. The Labor Party have formally acknowledged it's "too low", but have fallen short of making a meaningful commitment. 

If we can add tens of thousands of voices to the call to raise Newstart – together, we can make poverty unacceptable in the society we share. 

In solidarity, 

Jeremy Poxon 
From the Australian Unemployed Workers' Union 

PS. If you're currently unemployed, the Australian Unemployed Workers Union provides a range of resources and advocacy services that might benefit you. You can sign up to the AUWU here, or register your interest to help me on this campaign with GetUp to fight for a social security system we can all be proud of. 

[1] Inequality 'not rising', says Liberal minister confronted by Newstart recipients, The Guardian, 29 October 2018 
[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Job Vacancies, Australia cat. no. 6354.0; Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018, Labour Force, Australia, Time Series Spreadsheet, cat. no. 6202.0
GetUp! Australia :
PO Box A105, Sydney South, NSW, 1235, Australia Wide
GetUp! Australia
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