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Day 5 - Friday - Adam's Newstart Challenge


It seems to me the only way people can meet all the necessities of life while on the dole is to go into debt (to friends and family, to lenders or on the credit card you might have got when once employed). Otherwise, it seems you just have to skip some basics, like meals.

How do you eat when you’ve got no money? Organisations in the welfare sector are asked to pick up part of the burden. St Mary’s House of Welcome in Fitzroy has been feeding about 100 people lunch each day for 60 years. As the CEO, Tony, says “No one who comes here leaves hungry.” Today I helped to serve lunch to 45 residents – many who are on Newstart – and then enjoyed a delicious lunch of fish and chips, salad and desert. Best meal I’ve had for a while. I had a chat to another Tony afterwards who regularly eats at St Mary’s.

I was already $5.54 in debt at the beginning of today. I have a little bit of food left in my cupboard, but I could only eat today because of the charity of others. It should not be this way. The level of Newstart should enable people to eat each day and charities shouldn’t have to plug the gap left by government.



What do people on Newstart do when they run out of money? I was lucky enough to be able to use a credit card last night, as I know some people on Newstart do when stuck. But what if I didn’t have one? And how would I pay off this debt?

Not surprisingly, there are dozens of services in my electorate that cater for the thousands of people who need support each week. It should not be this way and were it not for the good hearted benevolence of thousands of volunteers and donors, people would be even worse off – and I would not have been able to eat today.

Food kitchens
I have found about 15 free and cheap meal services in my electorate. They all operate on a not-for-profit basis with government grants and donations. If you are able to make donations to any of these services, they would be grateful and you would be helping to feed people left in the lurch by inadequate Newstart payments. They include: Church of all Nations, Crossways, Friends of the Earth, Mathew Talbot Food Van, Open Family, Oznam, Rosie’s Van, St Luke’s, St Mark’s and the Salvos. Second Bite, Fare Share and Lentil as Anything also do great work.

Money loans
There are services such as Good Money that offer no-interest or low-interest loans. Other community banking services are also trying to help fill the gap and support people in need.

Household goods
What about trying to buy furniture and white goods? There is no capacity to save up for these on Newstart. Second-hand stores, op-shops and giveaways are the only viable options – or, of course, going without. Good Shepherd offers a Buying Service assisting Concession Card Holders.

What others have said:

“You don’t help people into a job by forcing them deeper into poverty. You don’t build people up by putting them down. We cannot for the life of us see how this is an adequate form of income, even in an interim period whilst someone is seeking employment.” [John Falzon, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society, Lateline Australian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast: 08/10/2012]

“[People] would struggle to live on $35 a day."The … claim is extraordinary and it flies in the face of all of the other evidence,'' she told ABC Radio. Ms Goldie said the decreased payments put families already under financial stress further below the poverty line."The evidence is clear - they are living below the poverty line and we as a country can afford to address that.'' [Cassandra Goldie, Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)]

“It is pleasing to see someone in politics actually try to find out from our perspective how difficult life can be for survival, even though looking for work and studying, I can recommend Sacred heart Mission dining hall in Grey St St Kilda, and also Prahran Mission. Thank you for going to this effort.”[Brigid]

“Lentil as Anything. Don’t pay. And then when you get a job go and pay what you feel.” [Douglas]

“You’ve just described the situation I was in for nearly a whole year going back a few … being in this position eats away at your confidence, your self-esteem and after many moths, your emotional well-being. Thankfully I got out of this hole and have gone leaps and bounds, but when I hear people moaning and groaning about people on the dole, all I think is that they’ve never had life fall out beneath them to be in this position. Lucky them. A bit of perspective and compassion people.”[Kleeve]

“You could do what many do and not eat all day then lie awake half the night while your belly rumbles – see how your appointments go then!” [Sarah]

At the end of Friday, money left $4.46 - $10.00 (Taxi) - $1.80 (food) - $3.50 = - $10.84

Petrol used: 43km – 16km – 11km = 16km petrol remaining


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