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Disabled people, work and welfareIs employment really the answer?$
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Chris Grover and Linda Piggott

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781447318323

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447318323.001.0001

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Doing the ‘hard yakka’

Doing the ‘hard yakka’

implications of Australia’s workfare policies for disabled people

(p.43) Three Doing the ‘hard yakka’
Disabled people, work and welfare

Alan Morris

Shaun Wilson

Karen Soldatic

Policy Press

This chapter examines life on neoliberal welfare in Australia. We first scrutinise the ongoing changes in disability support since the start of the 1990s. The analysis illustrates how eligibility for the disability benefit has tightened and become more conditional over the last two decades. A crucial development is that an increasing number of disabled people who previously qualified for the disability support pension have been forced on to the unemployment benefit (Newstart) which is far less generous than the disability benefit. The second part of the chapter discusses the adequacy problems of the Newstart benefit and ongoing deficiencies in Australia’s welfare-to-work model. The final section examines the lived experience of Newstart recipients in an inner-city neighbourhood in Sydney. Drawing on in-depth interviews with Newstart recipients and survey research, it examines the impacts of having to survive on the extremely low Newstart benefit. The data illustrates that living on Newstart is a life of ‘hard yakka’, one where individuals are constantly faced with severe financial pressures which, in turn, have dire impacts on their living circumstances, social ties, health and capacity to (re)enter the work-force. The chapter highlights that for the growing disabled cohort dependent on Newstart life will be exceptionally difficult.

Keywords:   Australia, sisability benefit, financial pressures, hard yakka, neoliberal, newstart, welfare to work, unemployment

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