Monday, May 19, 2014

Blog-a-Day May: Day 19: Work for the Dole

I’ve never been on unemployment benefits and long may that fact  remain. I have no problem people who are willing to work being on unemployment benefits whilst they search for employment – and I know that finding work can take time. It’s one of the great things about our country – we do look after those who have fallen on hard times. This is not to say that I agree with people living on benefits for their natural lives, but there are times when skilled people can’t find work. It’s good that these people have something to fall back on.

I’m watching a friend search for employment at the moment. Single, in her 40s and in a profession that’s shrinking by the year. It looks like she’s finally getting some casual work after nearly six months searching after not having her contract renewed, but I’m also glad that my friend has had some support now that she’s eaten through her savings. Though hard to watch, her grace and determination are wonderful to see.

With all of the fuss of the budget stirring around, its causing friends to have animated discussions about things that they normally wouldn't talk about, stating preferences where they might not normally say anything. 

I've learned to keep my mouth shut and not say things like “If you can’t afford to have kids, don’t have them”, especially after our daft Prime Moron wanted to pay the rich for six month maternity leave if you’re making up to $150K a year.  I've also found out that hounding people when they say ”Why should my taxes pay for the poor to go to hospital” can be counterproductive. (A more subtle, “And if you were to fall on hard times, wouldn't you expect to be treated in a hospital for free” works fairly well to make them reconsider hard line thoughts.)

The big, and what I think is pretty unacceptable, whammy that I saw in the Australian Federal Budget is for those under 30 you have no access to unemployment benefits for six months. Okay, if you’re at home with your parents you might be okay – but even then, there’s only so much sponging off the folks you can do. 
What about those who've moved interstate and are retrenched? Those who've moved for study and have settled interstate without family? What about those who don’t have supportive family – and there are a heap of people in that situation. There are all sorts of reasons why a person under the age of thirty could find themselves unemployed with no fallback position. Not everybody is 25 and lives at home with Mum or has the infrastructure in place to look after themselves. Not everybody comes from a stable nuclear family, Tony, you moron.

Which is why I’m utterly opposed to this measure the government is planning to bring in.

One thing I am not opposed to, however, is some kind of part time work for the dole scheme.

Not for a minute should this scheme be a 40 hour a week for anybody – 1-2 days maximum contribution. Looking for work is time consuming – I can tell you this for nothing.

But if a work for the dole scheme was in place, think of some of the things that could be done in the community. Think of the contributions people could make and how this could advance communities?

Okay, for a start, everybody on these schemes would need to be scrutinised – police checks for all first of all. Sorry, this would need to be done. This would have to be carefully administered and monitored so that there is no rorting – unlike our federal politicians who’ve closed down the Freedom of Information Office and refuse to be put under the scrutiny of an anti-corruption commission. (Funny that.)

But why couldn't there be schemes like the following, especially for the educated among the unemployed:

-          Helping kids read in class (improve literacy)
-          Street cleaning
-          Graffiti removal
-          Working with the elderly
-          Helping charities with various offerings (i.e. Meals on wheels)
-          Working with charities on food programs for the homeless
-          Those with degrees offering tutoring services in less well off schools
-          Giving English Conversation classes to recent migrants
-          Providing computer assistance to the less computer literate
-          Working in animal shelters
-          Spending time with a service group
-          Registered health care professionals can volunteer at clinics

A one –two day a week contribution to offset the dole.

Okay, yes, a nightmare to administer, but doesn't helping the community in some way give back in bucket loads with self-esteem, self-worth and gives people a sense of belonging and pride, as well as giving back to the community.

Okay, I’m going all hippy-dippy, lefty, Utopia here, but it’s a thought – just a thought.

If the state is to support people, why not let people give back in some small way, contribute to communities, to schools, hospitals, community centres and the like helping out in a small way – surely that would help communities and the people concerned.

One of the most devastating features of unemployment is how it decimates a person’s character and sense of self worth. 

Wouldn’t aiding in the community be more beneficial than making people suffer more?


Elephant's Child said...

A nightmare to administer - and expensive to administer properly.
So I can't see it being a happening thing even if this move does get through the Senate. And yes, some form of work for the dole is indeed a good thing. A win for us all.

Kath Lockett said...

"Wouldn’t aiding in the community be more beneficial than making people suffer more?"

...just add the word 'poor' in front of the word 'people' and it sums up the Abbott government. Sadly.