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Message from the Chair

A closer look at the budget from 9 May shows that welfare recipients are the biggest losers. In the last e-bulletin, we had a moment of euphoria and relief that the NDIS funding was secured for the forward estimates. Using the ‘devil is in the detail’ cliché, analysts have pointed to the fact that the State/Territories need to provide the other $40billion, so that the funding is not yet secure.

So whilst the budget was somewhat reassuring for the 10% of people who are eligible for the NDIS, we can see a punitive focus on all recipients of welfare payments continues.

In the week since the budget a team of women from the National Foundation of Australian Women (NFAW) have worked collaboratively to publish a gender analysis of the budget. On behalf of WWDACT, I undertook a disability analysis of the budget papers. Overall, the analysis shows that a high proportion of women with disabilities will not benefit from the tax concessions outlined, because their income is already below that which you would receive the tax concession.

Secondly, – woe betide you if you overlook paying a fine. Money from your fortnightly welfare payment will be reduced until the fine is paid. Welfare recipients who have run foul of the law will be guilty until proven otherwise, with welfare payments suspended where there are outstanding arrest warrants. Will the fugitives then be harboured by their mums, until flushed out by a neighbor, I wonder? Unpaid fines and welfare crims on the loose are certainly a worry, but the remedy does seem draconian.

And the much-called-for boost to NewStart was noticeably missing, with no change to the $39 per day current level.

Of more concern are the measures which will affect newly arrived refugees. They will wait 6 months for help through ‘job active’, and required to focus on their English during that time. No amount of English lessons will fill your belly or satisfy your hunger for real food.

You can read the National Foundation for Australian Women analysis here. Other articles based on the NFAW Gender Lens Budget are available from the Conversation and the Guardian.

Sue Salthouse