No promises of jobs, just threats of lowered income

CEO Social Justice Blog

The announcement that the Federal Government is considering a proposal to transfer people with an episodic mental illness from the disability support pension to the much less generous Newstart Allowance fills me with foreboding.

People who find themselves in situations such as these find it very difficult to find and sustain employment unless they’ve got a wonderfully sympathetic employer. I remember having a discussion a couple of years ago with a PhD student at Newcastle University who was researching employment opportunities for people with severe mental health issues. She had been unable to find one sympathetic employer who would be prepared to offer a job to a person who might display erratic behaviour at work during periods of episodic ill health.

We live in an era when businesses face increasing competition and demands for efficiency and people who may be a weak link in the chain tend to be pushed out rather than welcomed in unless there’s some government incentive to encourage employers to give people a go.

Our governments have never really understood the concept of mutual obligation which really should state that if someone offers you a job you should take it. There are no promises of jobs here, just threats of lowered income. These are sad times of increasing inequality across Australia.

I read a report recently which claimed that the average wealth held by the top 20% of Australian income earners is $2.3m each. Surely we can afford to be generous with people who are desperately searching for an opportunity to live a life just like everyone else.