May 15 2023
Today there is such enormous inequality between the wealthy and the disadvantaged in our community. Not just welfare recipients, but equally the working poor.
This fortnight, on the back of the Federal Budget, I’m thinking a lot about financial equality.
This budget included measures aimed at addressing the rising cost of living, and pleasingly there were significant inclusions that will have tangible impacts on the lives of Australia’s most disadvantaged.
These measures include lifting minimum welfare payment rates – a welcome move, but one that is noted as just sufficient to cover already inflated costs of living.
Already a media debate has ensued, with some calling for further payment rises, while the others unfairly characterising welfare recipients as ‘lazy or undeserving.’
Such assertions make my blood boil – While there absolutely are some welfare recipients who inappropriately rely on welfare, there are many, many more who are genuinely using it as a stepladder out of poverty, or who remain there through circumstances outside of their control.
More importantly though I think such characterisations miss important context about cost-of-living impacts on the broader population, not just those on welfare.
Today there is such enormous inequality between the wealthy and the disadvantaged in our community. Not just welfare recipients, but equally the working poor. Just as many people in our community who are gainfully employed, are struggling to pay rent, put food on their table, petrol in the car, and clothes on their back.
Financial disadvantage and associated stress are significant contributors to depression, mental illness, family violence, drug and alcohol abuse, marriage failure, self-harm and suicide, and a myriad of other societal challenges. In times of financial hardship, these all become more pronounced.
What this raises for me, is that if the working population is struggling to make ends meet – how much harder must this manifest in someone reliant on welfare.