ACOSS have made it clear lately that the budget cuts will adversely affect many aspects of Australian society, with the burden of redressing the ‘fiscal incompetence’ of the previous government largely falling on low-income families with children.
Working longer, unable to access welfare support until we are nearly in middle age, three children families being redefined as no longer ‘large’, trips to doctor and prescriptions to cost more and ever tighter restrictions to qualifying for disability support are budget measures that will continue to have impacts for years into the future. The effects will further marginalise those already struggling to find homes and jobs and to raise their children with minimal stress. The effects will also render young people more likely to be living in poverty – possibly a continuation of their lives in single parent homes or low-income households before they hit the workforce. And this is a Budget for Opportunity??
Despite the belief that Australia is the classless society, there remain the haves and the have nots. And, by and large, the have nots have always had nothing. To quote a single mum I interviewed last year, who was speaking of her more privileged extended family:
” … all my cousin’s kids . . . went to private school and they were all professionally, you know – and they can pass it on to their kids as well. They’ve got beautiful, big houses [waves her arms to indicate expansive homes], and I’m sure they work really hard for it, they have, yeah, undoubtedly. But how were they able to work that hard for it? How were they? ‘Cos, well their father paid for it. When they were five years old, they started at [an exclusive boys’ college] you know. And my cousin went to [an exclusive girls’ college]. You should see it! All the wealthy people go there, you know. I guess they just hand it down to their kids and the kids, you know, they accept it of course, and they work for it, and that, but it’s a vast gulf of difference. Yeah [sighs] And I wanted to pass something down to my children. ” [Single mum of three, 50, receiving NewStart Allowance and renting privately].
** For those interested in the topic of Inequality – consider reading the attached discussion of the application of the theories of Marx and Beck to contemporary global inequality –