Re-finding a new routine, with added players

A blurry baby photo. The baby is wearing pink and in is her mother's arm who is wearing a green dressing gown. They are in my kitchen

Bub has been in the world 17 days, kids have been living with us for 22 days. It’s busy and lovely and stressful and new and I’m slowly figuring out here I fit in all this, what I can look after and control, what works and doesn’t work for me and what I just have to remember is out of my control.

My kitchen with clen dishes

I’m doing my dishes in the morning still, cooking dinner for everyone in the evening. We’re still getting Everyplate boxes – upped it to four serves which is $50 extra a week, which makes it better value. Just trying to figure out what meals everyone likes and eats. I mean everyone eats every main, I just suss out the preferred meals. I’d love it, if you haven’t yet, sign up for a free trial box and I’ll get $25 credit towards ours πŸ™‚

Our landlord moved us to a new real estate agent, so they’ve booked an inspection for September 26. They’ve also organised for a plumber to do a water efficiency check on the property tomorrow, and I replied to their email about the inspection asking if the requested repairs from the June 2 inspection had been handed over, because the last real estate didn’t follow up on any of them, and of course not. So I re-requested the bathroom light and exhaust to be looked at since it is dodgy as and doesn’t always turn on with the lightswitch, and the two hotplates whose thermostats don’t kick in and the kids burned things the first time they cooked here since I hadn’t given them the rundown on which hotplates to avoid or use with caution.

We’re of course anxious about meeting a new real estate agent and what their expectations will be. We’re also out of lease and hope to get a new one – bearing in mind that the kids aren’t ON the lease and as adults should be to live here on a regular basis. Even though they were kids when we moved here, and still living at their mums, but the whole *situation* necessitated it and they’ve got a lot on their plate and public and social housing is this mythical unicorn, and who’s gonna rent to two new parents on youth allowance? So, it’s engaging with those services, social workers, mental health etc etc that I’m also supporting the kids to do. At least Bee could get into the non-bulk billing GP I go to since they were on their booked from when they tried living with us three years ago.

We have managed to acquire a bunch of home stuff from my Nanna’s deceased estate – a kettle, sandwich press, microwave, toaster, crockery and cutlery , much needed TOWELS (mine were all on their last legs without there being extra people!), and I’m getting the fridge and bed once the photos are taken for sale. So that’s been super helpful. I picked up another baby gate off marketplace to keep Maxi out of the kids room without permission. We’ve also sorted so much more of our own stuff, and moved everything car parts and computer parts wise out to the garage. Not sure yet if and when Ash, Bruce’s son will be joining us, but we’re as ready as we can be, ey?

I’m still going to my weekly Antabuse group, we did our urine tests this week to check whether we’d been taking other meds to cope with not being able to have alcohol, and surely I passed.

I’m excited and nervous about our Australian Unemployed Workers Union meetup this Thursday in town. 1pm at Bernie’s Bar (the Old Star Hotel) – you should RSVP and come! There’s gonna be free food and beanies and scarves and comrades!

me nd Maxi in our life jackets on the boat

Maxi and Bruce have been keeping me grounded

I want to say thank you again to family and friends who have been so supportive in so many ways from hugs to an ear to listen to me to cash to packets of nappies and biscuits off our wishlist. If you wanna help out materially, use those links or Buy Me A Coffee?

Speak BECAUSE your voice shakes – and because you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t

So it looks like the major parties are still running their little dirt files on people they don’t like. Of course, in direct contradiction to the recommendations of the Robodebt Royal Comission, they’re still happily digging what they see as dirt to discredit the welfare class.

Last night it was Kristen’s turn. Kristen is part of the Antipoverty Centre, and guess what, they’re not affiliated with any political party. And yeah, Kristen may have once been active in the Greens, but she left them before they even had good welfare policies.

The Antipoverty Centre is a new organisation established in May 2021 to counter problems with academics, think tanks, charities, bureaucrats and others in the political class making harmful decisions on behalf of people they purport to represent.

We are a collective of activists, advocates and researchers with direct, contemporary experience of poverty and unemployment. We have deep expertise in poverty because we live it. We defend and fight for the rights of people like ourselves who experience violence at the hands of an economic system designed to oppress us. It is our mission to shift how people speak about and respond to poverty and unemployment in this colony.

We work closely with peer support groups, activists and grassroots civil society organisations to complement their work. Our goal is to help ensure the voices and rights of people on the lowest incomes are at the centre of social policy development and discourse. We believe there should be no decision made about us without us.

The Antipoverty Centre is not aligned with any political party and does not accept funding that places political constraints on our work.

So, as part of Kristen’s work, so often has media appearances. Kristen is eloquent in her criticism of all political parties and draws on her experiences as a disabled woman – she’s on the DSP and has NDIS supports that have been hard-fought for – to present at parliamentary committees and talk on the radio. Yes, her voice shakes, and I’ve seen her cry, but that’s the thing about lived experience experts – we’re here because things have been and continue to be painful and we want better for ourselves and others. We don’t necessarily care if we personally get the extra money in our Centrelink payments, we want to see everyone rise up with us. And if that means putting ourselves out there for criticism, so be it, but it needs to be be FAIR criticism.

Yes, Kristen has volunteers for the Greens at a high level, yes, Ricci formerly worked for ACOSS. But those things don’t lessen their current experiences of this torturous welfare system or the fact that it’s broken and Labor and the Liberals want to keep it that way.

Forgive me for being a member of the Greens. I’ve been on the local council ballot too and I may well again if day to day life isn’t too much of a struggle next cycle, so if you want to discredit me use that. Oh and I’ve had well paying jobs in the past, before my mental health and alcohol caught up with me. So it’s my fault I’m in this position being on DSP and wanting better for myself and my loved ones. yes, we get defensive, but my friends are just defending their right to exist, to survive on the meagre offerings of this system, without having to put up and shut up. We want better things to be possible for ourselves and for everyone else. Even you, if you fall on hard times, because remember you’re only not disabled until you are.

Media watch should practice what it preaches. tell us who gave the “tip off” about Kristen’s Green past… was it Labor? or was it your own little dirt diggers? Tell the dirt diggers that the ABC offered to pay for my accommodation to get me down for round two on QANDA with Jim Chalmers, but they offered at 2pm and I didn’t have the spoons to get to Sydney that night, expenses paid or not. You’re happy to use us when it suits you, so let us speak about what we live and breathe every day.

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers – Break the Poverty Machine

rotting basil

Coming at you in my first blog post as a step-grandmother blogger. I used to be an Aunty blogger in the heady days of 2010 Mummyblogging. Going to all the do’s, getting all the samples, subjecting my niece and nephew to them, sugaring them up, giving them the latest toys and being able to hand them back to their mother.

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks – my stepdaughter and their partner moved in with us on the Sunday, bub was born on the Friday, and here we are a week later, trying to make sense of it all. It’s exciting and scary, and not entirely my story to tell, so I won’t. But I’ve gotten a lot of support, material and moral, from my little internet community. So thank you so very very much!

It’s better than I can say for this basil I unfortunately picked up for my sister this morning in the weekly OzHarvest bag from the local charity. The produce arrives at Cardiff from Ozharvest on the Thursday, the volunteers pack it into usually plastic hopping bags and it gets put into their fridge overnight to be handed out at 9am. The bags are tied at the top, and you get told off by the boss if you ask for a particular bag or try to look in it holding up the queue. And some of it’s fine, but from what my sister tells me, it lasts only a couple of days, maybe til Monday at best, due to the fridging and unfridging. I know the items are going to have a short self life since they’ve been picked up from the supermarkets cos they won’t sell them.

It bugs me that Labor will announce they’re funding a warehouse so a foodbank can expand rather than raising the rate of welfare payments we can all afford to buy the food we want when we want it form the local supermarket. It frustrates me that Foodbank are pushing for changes to tax laws to encourage more donations of food rather than pushing to end poverty.

Too many people are having long lunches and pulling six figure salaries while I’m embarrassed by the scraps I collect for my family. I like the idea of food rescue, but palming off wilted greens and bruised fruit that won’t live til the next schoolday isn’t fair to those who should really just be getting enough money to live from their government.

It’s 40 days til the holey parachute of welfare increases comes in. My little family will see an extra $120 a fortnight when you take into account the increases and indexations on offer on September 20. We’re not starving and we’re not out on the street, but there’s a lot that should be better.

Nanna needs a nap.

I’m so tired

Tshirt by Mel – Get it

We gave Labor the year to make good on their promises of noone left behind. We submitted to their enquiries, committees that recommended they raise the rate of welfare dramatically for those of the lowest payments. We held out hope to the last that they might agree to give a little more from their $20b surplus, or agree to take rent freezes to national cabinet. We watched ACOOSS and the rest of the poverty industrial complex ask for more on our behalf but then praise the scraps we were thrown.

Today Labor passed the $20/wk increase to job seeker, the raising of single parent payments back until the child turns 14 (not 16 like it was before) and the 15% rent assistance increase.

In reality the increases have all been soaked up already with time and inflation. They and the next indexing (2.2%) come in in 7 weeks, 49 days,

I’m tired and disappointed. I honestly was hoping a tiny amount that Labor might come through and not leave so many people behind.

But here we are.

Jobseeker rate to be lifted $56 a fortnight from September The rates for income support payments, including jobseeker and youth allowance, will increase by $56 a fortnight after legislation passed the senate on Wednesday. Originally promised as a $40 increase from 20 September, the rate was boosted to $56 after 2.2% indexation was applied for the cost of living. The opposition, Greens and crossbenchers attempted to request a series of amendments, including doubling the amount a recipient can earn before payments are reduced to $300 per fortnight and raising the base rate further, but all failed to garner enough support. The higher rate of jobseeker will now be $749.20 per fortnight, and for those aged 55 years and over who have been on payment for nine continuous months it will be $802.50 per fortnight. Social services minister Amanda Rishworth said in a statement shortly after it passed on the voices the changes would benefit close to two million Australians. JobSeeker and other income support payments are about helping those in our community who need it for a period of time More broadly, it is important to remember these income support changes work alongside other cost of living relief in the Budget including help with power bills, record investment in Medicare bulk-billing and cheaper medicines. Millions of Australians will directly benefit from these measures – including Australians on income support. - Sarah Basford Canales

Excuse me while I regather, focus on the pressing issue. My stepdaughter and their partner moved in with us on Sunday and their baby is due this Saturday. It’s exciting and scary and stressful as all hell. We’re off to get the last scan now! I’m cooking dinners for everyone for the timebeing to keep control of the kitchen, and cos I love to cook and to ensure everyone is fed.

If you wanna help materially, I have a groceries wishlist and paylinks. One internet sweetheart send a months worth of nappies which will not go astray.


But WHO matters, Jim?

Treasury released their Measuring What Matters framework Friday morning with press release and interviews, buzzwords and smiling photos. I admit to having bad feelings towards the word wellbeing. It’s so often used along with things like self-care to put personal responsibility front and centre of your ills, and that your own failings and failure to address them in an acceptable way are why you continue to suffer. The wellness industry is designed to make healthy people that little bit healthier, and the neoliberal economy of hours to for people to make more (money usually) with what they already have.

Stats are great, I love a good statistic that shows whether there’s any measurable change over time in something. The government already has many statistics at its fingers. from job numbers, to how many children are living in poverty, to food waste, to koalas numbers and more.

(not that they care to include poverty or child poverty as wellbeing measures)

They have committees and qualitative research. They the Closing the Gap reports for Indigenous people that are announced and seem to change very little. They have ignored stark recommendations from royal commissions, from committees they commissioned themselves with their preferred contributors. They have us writing letters and sharing our stories every day. But the people on the ground are disappointed and don’t really feel like another way of looking at things will offer any change on the ground.

How’s the wellbeing is going in relation to the “five key wellbeing themes”?

  • Healthy: A society in which people feel well and are in good physical and mental health, can access services when they need, and have the information they require to take action to improve their health.

“Feel Well” gotta love the nerfing of it already. Not be well, don’t be sick, don’t have longterm chronic pain that they can’t get medication for. But then, if you could get the medications best suited to your pain you may actually get to feel well. Let’s do that! Drugs for the masses! At least then it’s a bearable existence, masking the existential dread and foreboding planetary death from climate change. What? The planet will still be here but humans will get wiped out? even better, We suck. Let the orcas take over.

Good physical and mental health: My friends over on JobSeeker are eating one meal a day, getting scurvy, diabetes has spiked after repeated Covid infections. Nobody can get in to see a psych, and if they can there’s only 10 subsidised Medicare sessions now so you can only deal with things for an hour, once a month, ignoring school holidays. And don’t waste those sessions trying to get someone who fits and offers the sort of therapy that works for you. In and out. A dabble of CBT to dull the mild anxiety. Anything more, well that’s too complax, maybe you should access community or NDIS? lol nah. Not likely, and not without a costly diagnosis. I was saying the other day I just need a cool $10k so I can get the adults in my life long overdue ADHD/Autism assessments, because we all have some sort of spicy brain divergency, it’d just be nice to know what type and mix and whether there’s a chance very expensive stimulant medications might make us more productive members of society.

Have the information they need to improve their health: back once more on the individual to use their own choices to improve their health while government deliberately holds back the resources to do that in the name of austerity and continue to approve coal mines. But sure I can fix myself if I make the right choices. Personal responsibility….

  • Secure: A society where people live peacefully, feel safe, have financial security and access to housing.

Apparently “live peacefully” means no peaceful protesting of the destruction of the planet. Be polite, don’t kick up a fuss, accept what Master says what is best for you. While Europe floods and burns simultaneously, we’re locking up people for disrupting traffic. While governments talk climate, they approve more coal mines and still don’t find a good way to tax them to high heaven so if they’re going to raise the temperature another 2 degrees they could at lease pay for us to put in air conditioning.

Who has financial security? The go got their 19 Billion dollar buffer, so maybe it’s theirs that matters. There’s no guarantee of stable housing at the rental level, and even home owners – double incomes, kids or no kids, are stretching and stretching to make their mortgages, with the Great Australian Dream of home ownership passing many by. We have a central bank that states it want 1% more of the population to lose their jobs to stop inflation, but no word from the government from how those people are supposed to survive until they’re needed again, since the JobSeeker payment remains, by choice, below half the poverty line.

So the wanna be homeowners, the ones that in previous generations would be in their houses establishing life, and feeling settled, are still in the rental market. Rental properties are being hoarded, it’s not the people with the second house for retirement security we’re talking about here, it’s the multi-generational property hoarders, where Billy gets 10Β  houses by the time he’s finished uni on the back of Mum and Dad’s equity and the rent paid by tennants. They’re the ones raising the rents and colluding with the property managers to keep the game running. They’re the ones, along with the investment funds, calling in towards the end of the auction to outbid the young professional couple with a baby on the way.

Public housing is an endangered commodity, being demolished around the country as we speak, being replaced to social and affordable housing, being privatised, but made into something for someone else to profit off. Housing waiting lists are a decade long, and emergency accommodation is capped. Again, people are left to fend for themselves, off the gerousity of others, from family and friends, leaving those who are disconnected and isolated already with nowhere to to and those others stressed about outstaying their welcome.

My grandparents were given a fishing shack across the creek from where I live now by family when they got married because they had nothing. But from there they were able to raise a family and live a stable life there. My mother was able to save a deposit for a house before she got married and she and Dad paid that off. But my generation is a generation of renters and the next generation is one of couch surfers.

  • Sustainable: A society that sustainably uses natural and financial resources, protects and repairs the environment and builds resilience to combat challenges.

“Sustainable” you say? This is again where the governments say they can’t raise welfare because they need to have money for the future. This is where climate policy gets muddled once more with the financial outlays of equipping people to deal with the now inevitable climate-related disasters. Where politicians can promise more fire trucks while approving more coal mines and say they have a balance. Where they can encourage and financially incentivise homeowners to switch from gas to electricity and solar, while leaving public housing uninsulated and reliant on grid power.

Sustainable for me is budgeting my spoons for the day the week or the month. Where I budget how I can with the money I get from the DSP, to make sure I pay my regular bills, to make sure while my balance may be zero on pension eve, it hopefully doesn’t get overdrawn, and I can start the next fortnight afresh. Resilience for me is getting my morning chores done so I can be free to help others with the rest of my day. Sustainable is what they want from the NDIS, and that gets sustained by them not approving or being difficult about plans, discouraging people from applying or asking for what they need, and having others pick up the gaps. Sustained by the labours of love others can provide, and if you don’t have those supports you go back to missing out.

  • Cohesive: A society that supports connections with family, friends and the community, values diversity, and promotes belonging and culture.

Cohesion. Getting along. Mateship? Inclusion, acceptance, tolerance. Throw some more words in there, but hopefully we’re honouring people’s cultures and individuality, but also not letting an obsessive minority run wild, endagering the safety of others. Extremisim in all its forms in a danger and the sensible centre needs to use caution about how much both-sidesing they allow, especially when one side merely believes the other side are less than human and need to be eliminated. TERFs and Nazis, Islamists and Christianist, Zionists and Nationalists have found their little niche of identify built on their own feelings of superiority and need to claim that right at all costs.

Media needs to be aware of their role in platforming hate speech or unscientific arguments that put feelings ahead of rights. Publications need to recall the sub editors and fact checkers from the cull and put them to work ensuring that what they are scaring the public this week is actually accurate and not just repeating rumours and hate. They need to check the backgrounds of who they’re getting quote from, and remember that having Dr or Professor as their title doesn’t mean any expertise in the field being discussed.

The party that promised that the lions will eat the faces of those you fear with not hesitate to et them on you when you outlive your usefulness – queer people aligning themselves with anti-trans hate groups shouldn’t be surprised when their hard fought rights are struck down next and they are not longer loved by the right.

  • Prosperous: A society that has a dynamic, strong economy, invests in people’s skills and education, and provides broad opportunities for employment and well-paid, secure jobs.

Prosperity gospel is something that was talked about a lot in the dying days of the Morrison government. While the Pentecostal types have their own ways of profiting from it, the notions that acquiring wealth and property as a moral good seems to permeate the landlord class of Australia. The rest of us are filthy renters, welfare cheats and ne’er do-wells. We may be worthy of the charity of welfare if we come on hard times, or we may not be if we’re Dole Bludgers or Welfare Queens. We are assumed to be cheating the system and bending or breaking the rules because politicians do it all the time so why wouldn’t we? Sure, break the rules to get your sub-poverty dole check, I’ve said it before I don’t care if Gina Reinhardt’s latest boy toy gets JobSeeker, so long as someone who is a payment away from starving or losing their kids and house doesn’t get cutoff because of a quirk in the system, Services Australia not answering the phone or a job Provider who is trigger happy on the suspension of payments. You can’t prosper when you can’t afford to survive. You can’t thrive when you’re looking over your shoulder.

You also can’t take advantage of any of the “opportunities” that come up to study at TAFE for free if your payment doesn’t cover your rent and food, and your job provider is pushing you to apply for work that isn’t compatible with your timetable. People drop out every day because they need to take on a shift and can’t attend enough uni to graduate. They still end up with unpayable HECS debts that go up by more than people can repay even when they do have a steady graduate job. There’s no rooms for special intests or diabilities, or learning that your own pace. You can’t participate in a way that works for you, that is sustainable for you, the computer will say no.

Prosperity Gospel, The The Prosperity Gospel (PG) is a fast-growing theologically conservative movement frequently associated with Pentecostalism, evangelicalism, and charismatic Christianity that emphasizes believers’ abilities to transcend poverty and/or illness through devotion and positive confession. The PG is popular among impoverished communities, where at best it is considered to offer the poor a means of imagining and reaching for better lives (at times accompanied by sound financial advice), and at worst is criticized as predatory and manipulative, particularly when churches or pastors require heavy tithing. Members of the socioeconomic elite may also be drawn to PG messages, which affirm the religious and spiritual legitimacy of wealth accumulation and reinforce a worldview in which financial success is an indicator of moral soundness.

Do I look like I’m despairing for the future? Well I am, but also for the present. It’s my birthday today, and while I’m getting too old for it to be a thing, it’s always a good time to reflect. I’m okay with my day to day life, I love helping my friends and my family, looking after myself and my partner, pottering around with my dog in the morning, I just wish and hope to help push for the government to do more to help everyone, and to not makes things worse.

You have all your numbers, your recommendations, your experts and your committees. They all point to investing more in your people directly, by Raising the Rate of welfare, but building more public housing, by letting people get on their days because you know what, most people know what they are good at and what works for them? We want government support because you have to money to help us, and the responsibility to ensure your citizens survive and thrive.

People want to feel like they matter. “No-one left behind” is YOUR slogan Jim. You all seemed so promising from opposition, well you at least you said the right things. People matter, no corporations. Voter, not donors. Please listen to us.