On both occasions, in late 2013 and more recently in 2014, the stigma, pedantry, inconsistencies, inadequacies and bureaucratic hegemony I’ve discussed in my previous posts are still prevalent. To borrow a phrase from our regional northern neighbours ,“samesamebutdifferent”.
However, change does come, even if it is wee small amounts, which need a sharp eye to see.
September 2013 – St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia
In this forteen month period I spent time fulfilling job opportunites back in the UK, as well networking and forging new contacts and possibilities in the recovering job market in the USA.
So it came as a pleasant surprise that in the time I was away the Business Council of Australia (BCA) joined members of social welfare groups, such as ACOSS and alternative media including The Conversation and ABC’s The Drum who for years have been calling for a welfare overhaul and substative increase in the Newstart allowance.
In an article titled “Business backs higher Newstart to stop entrenched joblessness” published in The Australian (Karvelis 12 August 2012) the BCA warned the then Gillard government the low rate of dole payments had become a barrier to employment and risked entrenching poverty.
The BCA’s submission to the Senate, of course did not affect any change. However, this progressive stance was a bold step forward, and away from the “dole bludger” stereotype continually perpetuated by nightly current affairs programming.
October 2014 – Innaloo, Perth, Australia
Recently, I’ve again contacted the Department of Human Resources with intent to claim unemployment benefits. While waiting the mandatory two week period for an initial half payment I read about the Relocation Assistance program launched by the Abbott government at the start of July.
An article titled “Jobless take up help to relocation” published in The Australian on 22 October 2014, Karvelis examines the incentive scheme. The program encourages the long-term unemployed to move to a new area where work is being offered by providing financial assistance of up to $6000.
As further small sign of expansive thinking, I’m again suprised by what I would have thought should be a Labour government incentive. Whether the Abbott government succeeds with its plan at reducing long-term unemployment is like with most things, a matter of time. As I said before “samesamebutdifferent”.
But hopefully with greater appreciation for how hard life is out there for some; with a little more understanding and little more compassion everything will be a little bit better for everyone in the future.