Antipoverty Activist Origin Stories

Melissa wrote yesterday on the impacts of poverty on self-esteem, but how much of that comes from others kicking you when you’re down or questioning how you dare to enjoy a little treat on indulge in a “vice”. This post wasn’t out of nowhere, and not the first time an antipoverty activist has felt the need to detail their backstory, from born into poverty to having a long fall from the top, we all have them and feel the need to justify our existence in this space now and then, but never moreso than when self-appointed gatekeepers come out with their deserving and undeserving poor narratives, how it’s all about hard work and but never about how they may have got there then pulled the ladder up after them.

Inside the private school past and comfortable lives of 'Jobseeker Jez''s 'union' leaders - as they campaign for bigger dole payments for the unemployed

Our favourite online rag, the Daily Mail, has a regular go after some of the more prominent members of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union, and has dedicated articles to the private school backgrounds of some of the office bearers, because there’s no way that anyone who’s parents fronted up for a private education could ever have difficulties in their life that lead to disability and/or long-term unemployment.

I’ve mentioned Van Badham here before, and how she won’t engage with any criticism of Labor and preemptively blocks anyone associated with the Greens rather than engage on Twitter.  She had quite the weekend on Twitter, with this profile piece done on her by the ABC, that drew some comments and eye-rolls, but even more so being called out by comedian Aamer Rahman after she shared one of his bits on racism in regards to Sam Kerr’s charges, and he called her out quite thoroughly for avoiding any mention of Gaza let alone condemning the slaughter of 30,000 Palestinians by Istael.

It was certainly a get my name out of your mouth moment.

I assume Van is of the school if you can’t say anything nice say nothing at all…

So, coming back to the qualifications needed to be an anti-poverty activist. You need to be genuine and care about other people. You need to realise that everyone’s story is different and legitimate and what worked for one won’t work for all. You need to put people’s health, welfare and safety ahead of looking good and cheering on your team. You just need to be a decent person who listens.

Perhaps, now and then I’m jealous of a pair of shoes that the well-meaning white women speaking over us has, or their paycheques or stable housing. But then I’m jealous of Amy Remeikis’ wardrobe, but she seems like a legitimately great person who uses her position to ask difficult questions of those in power about their priorities policies and not just whether it’ll be good for the party.

Anyways.

My origin story? Do we have time for that?

Not really, perhaps another day. But here’s my linkedin, so you can draw your own conclusions xoxox

Lake Macquarie Pride Fair and Break the Poverty Machine Rally Newcatle

SO, that was a HUGE weekend with a lot of planning and build up, lots of talking and posting and having my brain switched on, and now that I’m in recovery mode I’m going to look back at it! This is my boot after ditching the tables and gazebo at the scout hall from pride, but before the rally Monday. It’s chaos like my brain! I’ve now gotten to Wednesday and think I MAY have a virus, but it’s not certain, so I’m just drinking all the water and resting up. RATs are neg so far. I’m probably just peopled-out.

I did touch a lot of people as I was putting on soooo many temporary tattoos heh Only a couple of cleavage ones, unlike ten years ago when I was applying temporary tattoos for the Sex Party (now Reason) at Sexpo in Sydney!

A lovely evening, with perfect weather and a mix of market and community stalls, lotsa freebies and cool things, and a great vibe! Well done Newcastle Pride Inc! Thanks for bringing pride to Lake Mac!

Sunday was a rest day, and  then I picked up my Twitter friend Aeryn from the station who’d come up from Wollongong for the rally!

Here are some of the experiences of welfare shared by attendees at the Newcastle rally. You can click on the thumbnails to enlarge them.

Why is seeking welfare the same effort as a full time job and it's still not enough to get by #raisetherate

And then the tear-jerker from Andrew who I’d been chatting to outside Centrelink while he was waiting for a friend. He started off with the expected – red meat, social life, coffee, giving up tobacco being a near killer as it got more and more expensive, but then, the story of how he’s been saving for a headstone for his baby boy’s grave since he dies 8 years ago at two days old just hit me hard. I apologised for having to bring it up, but he reassured me it was okay and it was good to tell someone who cared. Every time he comes close there’s the unexpected expense like a huge bill or a fridge breaking down and he just hasn’t gotten there.

The speech from Catherine was powerful, with John Mackenzie also telling it like it is. Mum says we were on NBN news that night, but they haven’t posted that story on socials.

Aeryn and I went for a scenic drive, listening and watching the rally from Adelaide on Twitch and stopping for lunch at gorgeous Nobby’s, at Bruce’s insistence I treat us to lunch somewhere.

And here we are. Check out the #BTPM tag on twitter and other socials for posts from people on Centrelink around the country pleading for a better future this Antipoverty week. There’s way too much talk about what would be nice but nothing tangible being offered, as usual.