National JobSeeker Week Of Action Targets Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth ‘No One Left Behind’ Must Include People In Poverty

National Week of Action (April 15-21): Grassroots anti-poverty groups and people on JobSeeker and other payments will be contacting and visiting their MPs to call for payments to be raised out of poverty in the May federal budget

Grassroots anti-poverty groups across the country, including Anti-Poverty Network SA, Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union, Antipoverty Centre, and Anti-Poverty Network Qld, will be mobilising the community to pressure Labor MPs on the disgracefully-low rate of JobSeeker, as part of a national Week of Action from April 15-21.

The week of lobbying, which will include job-seekers and supporters contacting and visiting their MPs, will finish with an action outside the office of Social Services Minister, Amanda Rishworth, calling on her to ensure people in poverty are not left behind in next month’s federal budget.

Quote from Anti-Poverty Network SA: “Almost two years ago, the Albanese government was elected on a promise to ‘Leave No One Behind’, but people on JobSeeker have been largely forgotten.

Last year’s federal budget saw an insulting and miserable $2.86-a-day rise to JobSeeker. And last month’s pathetic indexation – a 97-cents-a-day increase – will do little for people struggling with skyrocketing rents, and other soaring living costs. JobSeeker, at $54-a-day – $375-a-week – will still be $32-a-day – $224-a-week – below the Henderson poverty-line of $86-a-day.

The Albanese government is dreaming, if it thinks its work is done: this year’s Federal Budget needs to finish the job, by lifting JobSeeker, and other payments, out of poverty.”

Quote from Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union: “Since the last Budget’s chaotic display, we have seen almost nothing of the Minister. Amanda Rishworth has remained hidden, shying away from the poverty crisis and offering no plan to meaningfully help those in poverty.

This is an issue that needs a real solution, a significant raise to income support payments has long been accepted as necessary, if not inevitable. So where is the Minister’s plan? Why, so far into this government’s term, do we have no idea what Amanda Rishworth intends to do? In absence of any word from the Minister we have to assume the answer is nothing.”

Quote from Antipoverty Centre: “The welfare system is killing people. Deepening poverty, punitive “mutual” obligations, Centrelink processing times and baseless so-called debts are destroying lives at the same time we are squeezed by landlords and cost of living hikes. 

A budget that leaves people in poverty is not a responsible budget. The fastest and most effective thing the government can do to support the people who need it most is immediately increase Centrelink payments above the poverty line and stop “mutual” obligations. They have money to pay for tax cuts for the rich and weapons of war, there is no excuse for neglecting the poor.”

Quote from the Anti-Poverty Network of Queensland: “This isn’t even a debate anymore! We have known for years that Jobseeker as well as all other Centrelink payments are far below the poverty line.

Back in 2020 we saw how when they raised Jobseeker during the height of the pandemic many people’s lives improved. They didn’t have to choose between rent or medicine.

The fact that they then decreased it and has not been raised by any substantial figure shows that they are intentionally keeping people in poverty.

Join the Mini-rally outside office of Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth on Friday April 19, 1pm, at 232 Main South Road, Morphett Vale, SA


Five weeks til the Budget, are you trying to dash our hopes already Jim?

You are the federal treasurer. You can pull the lever at any time to reduce homelessness and poverty. However, it means you won't be able to do a press conference boasting about a budget surplusWhat do you do?
Jim Chalmers’ Trolley Problem

It’s five weeks until Jim Chalmer’s hands down the budget that Labor will likely try to ride into the next election. “Cost of living” is the buzz phrase still, and he and his colleagues are drip feeding us what to expect, and also what NOT to expect.

This week Jimmy made sure to play down any hopes for anything significant for those on welfare. We’ll likely see a repeat of the $125 ish a quarter energy bill relief (or we won’t see it it goes straight to the companies) because your bill without it would be a pre-election nightmare for Labor. Plus it’s also been a tool for them to fudge the inflation figures – if the discount is applied BEFORE it gets to our inbox, it doesn’t count as inflation, right? Even though the gov still pays for it, the company still pockets it, and everyone gets to grin and shake hands.

Of course, the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee is yet to report back, as they are to do at least a whole two weeks before each budget. But last year’s key recommendation of raising Job Seeker to 90% of the pension rate was ignored, so I’m not holding my breath for their recommendations – but I’m curious will they go as hard as last year? Or, will they not and say why bother?

Also, where are those backbenches who signed the call for a significant increase to Job Seeker? Were they bought off for $20 a week too?

Welfare Dependency is a Good Thing, Actually

Two alieds in regal gear with text Why does the working class, the larger of the two classes, not simply eat the rich?

Yeah, The Poors are cranky again, this time because a “think tank” has decided there’s too many of us on welfare and that it’s a bad thing. They also decided that the NDIS is welfare and double counted people on that and on support payments like the disability support pension and Job Seeker, so aside from their numbers being dodgy, they seem to think that people on the NDIS are the ones suckling that cash cow, whether really it’s the  businesses and “not for profits” making money off disabled people’s need to get out of bed or shower who are raking it in.

Mel argued today that welfare dependency isn’t actually a thing, and she has a point, but I’d like to also argue that being dependent on welfare is a good thing, actually, and the safety net should be more reliable and available to more people.

People shouldn’t be waiting over three months from applying for the aged pension or youth allowance to see any money. They shouldn’t be having their payment suspended due to an error from a JSP, they shouldn’t have to spend hours on hold if they can even get on hold to Centrelink to get their entitlements reinstated.

Welfare SHOULD be dependable as a safety net. For those who can’t work, for those who are sick or disabled or aged or caring for themselves or others. We should be able to access it in a timely fashion when circumstances arise like unemployment or a new baby. Welfare dependence is a good thing, actually, and I wish Australia’s welfare system was more dependable.


Greens MP boosts Lake Macquarie City Council candidates

Abigail Boyd and Bryce HamGreens MP Abigail Boyd boosts Lake Macquarie City Council candidates

Lake Macquarie Greens have launched environmental activist and campaigner Bryce Ham as candidate for North Ward of Lake Macquarie City Council along with veteran Greens campaigner Jane Oakley as candidate for East Ward, who has long advocated for improved pedestrian safety across Lake Macquarie neighbourhoods.

Their campaign for Council received a double boost from Greens NSW MP Abigail Boyd who covers Hunter, Central Coast and Newcastle in the NSW Parliament.

Greens NSW MP for the Hunter, Central Coast and Newcastle Abigail Boyd said:

“From the local to the global scale, Bryce Ham already has impressive experience as an effective activist and campaigner.  Bryce is committed to a long-term vision for Lake Macquarie that will maintain this area as one of the most desirable places to live in NSW including through sustainable transport options, protection of our environment, and public infrastructure development that puts residents first.”

“Bryce’s commitment to a safe and stable future included his bravery in joining The People’s Blockade of Newcastle Port last November. Bryce and over 100 fellow protesters were fully exonerated by the Magistrate’s Court, who described them as valuable contributors to society who have done outstanding work in their communities and have a genuine concern for the environment.”

“Lake Macquarie residents can expect both Jane and Bryce to deliver on commitments they make as a candidates for Council,” said Abigail Boyd.

North Ward candidate Bryce Ham said:

“I’ve heard from many Lake Macquarie residents over the last three months and it’s clear they expect Council to deliver safer walking and shared pathway options, particularly around schools. Whether people wish to travel on foot, with strollers, mobility scooters, bicycles, or wheelchairs, residents need safe level areas separated from vehicle traffic, and Council has not done enough in this area to make Lake Macquarie walkable for people of all ages.”

“Residents I’ve heard from are also worried about the threat from encroaching development to the green spaces, beaches and the Lake itself that would ruin what makes Lake Macquarie one of the most desirable places to live in NSW. Council’s current approach to development places at risk the intact habitats, native vegetation, wildlife corridors, walking trails and waterways that make Lake Macquarie attractive to residents in the first place. Without those natural assets, what would we be left with?”

“My approach to infrastructure development is that Lake Macquarie City Council must put residents first. That means sufficient walking, cycling and mobility options in increasingly crowded Charlestown, Cardiff, and Edgeworth to reduce traffic congestion, and connecting Charlestown to the coast via the Dudley trail that I’ve campaigned on for over 5 years now.”

“We will also make announcements for protecting children at all Council playgrounds with UV shadecloth, and better bus shelters to encourage public transport use across the hundreds of bus stops around Lake Macquarie.”

“But today I am most excited to announce that as Greens candidate for Lake Macquarie City Council, I will move to scrap entry fees to Council pools if elected to North Ward in September.”

“The whole community will benefit from the Greens plan to scrap entry fees at all six Council operated pools in Charlestown, Morisset, Swansea, Speers Point, Toronto and West Wallsend,” said Bryce.

“Even in our coastal region blessed with natural ocean and lakeside beaches, public pools are essential to many residents for safety, recreation, exercise, mobility, and social health. But entry fees are locking out too many Lake Macquarie residents. Entry fees are an unnecessary barrier to access, denying residents the health and social benefits of swimming in a safe, supervised environment.”

“Instead of the unnecessary administration costs and unproductive workload that comes from collection and monitoring of entry fees, Council could divert those resources to additional swim programs and maintenance of all six pools around Lake Macquarie. Pool-goers would also find themselves with extra money in their pocket to treat the family at the kiosk instead.”

“For many Lake Macquarie families, the pool is their best option for children to learn to swim, to cool off after a challenging day’s work, or just to spend time together. For older residents the pool can be a great way to reinvigorate their health and social life in a safe swimming environment. Why should residents and ratepayers who already fund these pools miss out on these benefits due to an unnecessary barrier like entry fees?”

“Other areas of NSW that have trialed free entry programs found that their community, their pool, and Council bottom line all benefited as a result. Increased patronage at the pool led to more support for associated programs, pool shops and canteens, with extended hours and seasons leading to more local employment. The health, social, and financial benefits add up to much more than the fees foregone by Council. “

“Summer heatwaves, made more severe by global warming, remind us all that public places to cool off are essential for people of all ages and health needs; what better place than a safe, supervised Council pool?”

“Free, safe and supervised swimming pools bring people together, and Council should encourage more of this in Lake Macquarie by scrapping the entry fees. If elected in September, I will pursue this as a policy for Council,” said Bryce.

East Ward candidate Jane Oakley said:

“Being able to walk safely in our community, whether for transport, leisure or exercise, is critically important.”

“Improving walkability has a range of health, environmental and economic benefits. It’s really a win-win for council and for people in our communities.”

“I’ve spoken with residents who have been lobbying the council for years to improve footpaths around the local shops and schools. They’re fed up with the lack of action and I’m taking up their call as a candidate for East Ward.”

Bryce Ham is the Greens candidate for North Ward Lake Macquarie City Council Contact 0475 263 310

Jane Oakley is the Greens candidate for East Ward Lake Macquarie City Council Contact 0401 867 080

Let’s look at the Draft National Autism Strategy

So it was Autism whatever day yesterday, so the government got to announce what they’re gonna try to do to make sure there’s no immediate Autistic Uprising. One of those things in Australia was announcing the Draft National Autism Strategy, which I’m going to read through and react to here.

Before I read it, what do I want?

  1. Timely, affordable assessment and diagnosis of Autism and related conditions like ADHD. Ultimately free to the person being assessed, paid for by the government in full, not by crowdfunding. Preferably without an upfront cost that needs to be claimed back. I ‘member the olden days (early 2000s) when kids could get assessed and diagnosed free, and sometimes even adults could.
  2. Support for teachers and schools to include Autistic kids how they need to be included to learn. The feds will palm this off to the states, but schools need to be supported to include all kids in their local schools. They should be provided with the staffing and physical resources needed – space, suitable classrooms, flexibility in policies around attendance and “discipline”.
  3. Family support. Why is everything such a struggle? Recognition that Autistic kids probably have Autistic/ADHD parents and siblings. Whole family approaches to providing supports and funding, not making it a fight for everything, trusting that people know what help they need, but also presenting them with options if they’re not sure where to start – NDIS is too gatekeepy with new families having to ask for specific things that they need but don’t know exists or that they’re allowed to use their funding on. I miss the early intervention social workers I worked with in Canberra who knew every support available and how to get families into these.
  4. Mental health supports across all ages. Basically unlimited psychological supports that people can move in and out of as needed and not just when there’s a crisis. Suitable crisis care – crisis care that actually acknowledges Autism provides guidance on how to get support for that as an underlying thing, rather than just treating the apparently borderline personality disorder, eating disorder, suicide attempt or addiction.
  5. Support to get financial security. Money to start businesses because we’ve probably got good ideas, support to learn how to do the business parts so those ideas can be sustainable. Mentorship – whether in large and small workplaces or in our own ventures. Requirements for government agencies and businesses to understand us and accommodate our needs, and that that is different for each person. You think we’re the rigid ones? We just tend to know after awhile what works for us. Of course I’m gonna say welfare payments above the poverty line, because things don’t always work out and a true financial safety net means not starting from scratch if we go into burnout or have a mental health crisis.

That’ll do for now. *saves draft* let’s look at this thing. Commitments The commitments relate to areas of Australian Government responsibility. Feedback from the community on issues relating to states and territories has been shared with state and territory governments. In any areas of joint responsibility between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments, the Strategy will guide the Australian Government’s engagement with jurisdictions. Social Inclusion 1. Improve understanding of, and change attitudes towards, Autistic people across all of society, through: a. Greater public education and awareness including a better understanding of autism within workplaces, and with a focus on health, education and the criminal justice system. b. Increasing visibility and representation of Autistic people in the media, sports and the arts. c. Increasing accessible and sensory-friendly public and online spaces. d. Increasing the capability of advocates and advocacy organisations to challenge and reduce stigma of autism. 2. Increase opportunities for social connections and peer support. 3. Improve Australian Government service delivery, communication, and information to meet the needs of Autistic people. 4. Ensure consideration of the needs of Autistic people in future amendments to or reviews of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and associated disability standards. 5. Improve the safety and welfare of Autistic people through the reduction of all forms of discrimination, violence, abuse, bullying, vilification and exploitation.

Of course it starts with reminding us it’s only about what the Commonwealth government wants to do and that while they’re gonna put more responsibilities back on the states, they won’t make them do particular things in return for funding and good luck to you.

Social Inclusion: Ooh good it includes the criminal justice system as needing to better understand Autism. Obviously we want help before that stage in education and school.

Visibility in media – so more characters on tv, or actually autistic actors or exploitative ABC reality shows? I’m curious about how that one about the ACCR autistic journalism cadets is panning out :/

Sensory friendly spaces – I SWEAR the Services NSW has their radio up  deliberately loud outside the quiet hours. Can we just ban commercial radio in public settings? And have Coles radio on low enough that it isn’t painful? more benches in quiet places where I can sit with my shopping til it’s bearable to go back.

Capacity building for advocates – um, fund advocacy organizations, an not just the ones who tell you what you want to hear? And not just around stigma, but about supporting people to access your services, get your funding for therapy, fight your tribunals. And fund legal aid.

Connections and peer support – how we want it, give us the money to run lego and minecraft and flower arranging and train spotting and and anything groups, don’t give it to neurotypicals to babysit us. Train Autistic audits to support younger Autistics and run peer support.

Legal stuff – enforce the antidiscrimination laws we already have, actually penalise people and businesses if they break those laws. Stop letting them please financial hardship – start with government agencies hey?Economic Inclusion 6. Increase meaningful employment opportunities (including business ownership, self-employment, entrepreneurship and social enterprise) for Autistic people. 7. Support employers to hire and retain Autistic employees through improving the accessibility of recruitment processes and fostering workplace environments that are safe and inclusive for all Autistic people. 8. Improve the supports and services available to Autistic people to ensure they have choice and control over their education and careers. 9. Increase representation of Autistic people in senior and board positions to promote people as visible role models. 10. Improve inclusive practices and the quality and accessibility of advocacy resources for Autistic students across all education settings, and their families, carers and support networks. 11. Build on commitment 5 Improve the safety and welfare of Autistic people through the reduction of all forms of discrimination, violence, abuse, bullying, vilification and exploitation to specifically focus on Autistic students in all levels of education.

Economic Inclusion: All great ideas. But they all need enforcement when they are legal requirements. ACAB, but perhaps an Autistic-led way of enforcing the antidiscrimination laws and educational requirements and so forth? They also just need to give us more money and trust that we generally know what we wanna do with it. Welfare above the poverty line as a true safety net. The right to housing. The right to education. Human rights.

The first one about supporting Autistic people to have their own businesses. It needs to go further than a year of the NEIS Centrelink solo business program that doesn’t actually give you any money to start your business. Grants for Autistic people to start businesses, to employ others. Sometimes we just need to be supported to include each other.

iagnosis, Services and Supports 12. Consider the use and consistency of current identification screening, outcome and diagnostic tools. Work with relevant professional bodies to develop a set of standardised co-designed training/professional development and resource materials to support professionals involved in the identification, assessment and diagnosis of autism to improve the experience, and quality of this process for Autistic people and their families and carers. 13. Develop a set of best practice resources to support Autistic people and their families, carers and support networks through the identification, assessment and diagnosis process. 14. Explore ways to improve access to primary care, including through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), to: a. improve quality health and mental health services for Autistic people, with a focus on continuity of care, and b. explore ways to make Autism diagnosis and assessment processes more timely and accessible. 15. Consider early screening and identification arrangements, and improved access to health professionals.* * Consideration is to be given to how this commitment links with joint work being undertaken by the Australian and state and territory governments as part of Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-31 and in response to the Independent Review of the NDIS. Details on work to meet this commitment will be developed in Action Plan/s. 16. Improve access to quality, timely, neurodiversity-affirming and equitable supports and services for Autistic people, including for people living in rural, regional and remote areas. 17. Encourage greater representation of people with lived experience in delivering supports and services to Autistic people. 18. Develop a set of best practice training and resource materials for people providing services and supports to Autistic people. 19. Explore the feasibility of a decision-making tool to empower Autistic people to make informed decisions about all areas of their life. 20. Work with states and territories to improve service integration between the NDIS, foundational supports and mainstream services.

Diagnosis, Services and Supports: Make Autism assessment free somehow – whether through brining back the government assessment teams or directly funding assessment by private providers through bulk-billing Medicare items at adequate rates that mean the providers can provide them on demand. Rebated Medicare items lead to people who can’t front the money missing out, and guess what, Autistic people and their families don’t have the cash lying around.

There’s a LOT of resources out there on what is best practice. Scrap funding for ABA. Funding for services beyond the capital cities and major centres is still lacking and a constant difficulty for all disability and health services – more funding through the education services might be a way to reach out to more places, trained teachers in mainstream early childhood settings and schools who can liaise with “specialist” supports and know where to get support.

“Greater representation” of Autistic people / lived experience – this needs to go back to workplaces and training programs being safe for Autistic people and accommodating, they need to accommodate us at the undergrad level of teaching, speech pathology, occupational therapy university programs. It needs to be okay to be neurodivergent in University and TAFE. It needs to be safe to disclose at those places or in workplaces and to have bad days as a therapist. Mask on or off, we need to be supported.

Supported decision making support is lacking across the NDIS. People are being blamed for their providers taking advantage of them where they should have been supported to make their own decisions around support and purchases that affect their lives.

Governance 21. Develop a governance framework to support: a. strong accountability mechanisms, b. co-leadership and active involvement of Autistic people, as well as parents and carers, and professionals within the autism sector, and c. whole-of-government, cross-sectoral and coordinated approaches to implementationResearch
22. Explore how autism research can best be fostered and applied to policy and service delivery and
underpinned by the Strategy’s Guiding Principles.
23. Develop a National Autism Strategy Evidence Framework, including a Theory of Change,
Program Logic, Outcomes Framework, and Evaluation Framework.
Evaluation and Reporting
24. Develop a robust Evaluation Plan and reporting mechanism, co-led by Autistic people and the
autism community, for the National Autism Strateg

Governance, Research, Evidence, Evaluation and Reporting: OMG ACCOUNTABILITY. Please stop saying you’re going to fix something, ask opinions on things, consult with people and then never follow up, or hold yourselves accountable. Closing the Gap, for example. It’s just a report each year on how much worse things are getting for most First Nations people, rather than a review that you act on to change what you’re doing.

You’ve on page 8 “Nothing about us, without us”. You know that means more than just consulting? It means actually implementing our ideas and not saying that you can’t because it’s too hard or expensive for the neurotypical and non-disabled people. I need to look at who you have on these committees but I trust in the Autistic members to unmask and tell it like it is. You may be uncomfortable, but when the Autistic people who can’t speak up for themselves are still being abused and neglected and the systems are upholding the abusers rights through funding them or listening to them over us, we get angry and you’ve given us a chance to fix that, so you’d better change things.

It’s not a completely terrible read, so read the plan if you’ve time, but again if they don’t follow through with action and funding why bother?

Listen to us, give us money to do the things we need to do to live, fund our supports, teach us how to identify our needs, trust us.