Could you live on $38 a day?

Tuesday 7 May, 2013
Why did we choose such an odd figure? Because that's what the average Australian single parent looking for work gets from the government as a recipient of the Newstart benefit (or, the dole). Many people could spend $38 on a night out - drinks, dinner and the train fare for getting there. Imagine if you had a child and you had to divide that figure between two (or three or four). As Labor 'scrambles' to increase the current Newstart benefit of $537.80 to an extra $100 per fortnight, single mother's will continue scrambling eggs. Sure, anything extra is a help for people financially struggling and trying to find a job. An individual's potential to improve their own employment circumstances can hardly be achieved when they become so entrenched in their own poverty. We all understand the costs involved in everyday life as well as raising a child - food, fuel, household bills, treatment for major or minor medical issues '“ the money is gone before a new outfit and a haircut can be paid for a job interview. But when the government decides to help job seekers, they also need to focus on where the real issue lies. What type of people can't find employment and why? The recipients of the Newstart allowance are more likely to be older workers, individuals who have low or no formal education, people suffering from physical or mental illnesses or disabilities and those people who struggle with language barriers such as migrants. In order to really help these job seekers, a greater emphasis on education and skill training programs needs to be created. The mindset of employers to adopt a more diverse workforce also needs to be addressed. Finally, like OneShift hopes to promote, a more flexible job market needs to be adopted so that single parents have the option to both work and look after their children. By creating more part-time and casual positions, a more inclusive job market will encourage more people back into work. If we don't address these underlying issues in combination with the financial specifics of the benefit allowance, people will always find it hard to find and hold down a job.
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