Kym’s enews Message — 5 September 2019

          “I’m more or less on the verge of being homeless.”

          “I can’t afford to socialise and go out as much as I used to. I’ve had to give up a few sporting commitments.”

          “I hate being a ‘dole bludger’. I want to support myself and enjoy life.”

These are just a small representation of the stories that have come pouring into TasCOSS since we promoted consultation sessions on Tasmanians’ accounts of life on Newstart.

Thank you to all who have shared their stories with us so far. Thank you for trusting us with your stories, for opening up to us about your experiences and, in doing so, working towards changing Newstart and, in the longer term, improving the systems put in place by governments.

We were overwhelmed by the response to our call for stories and we regret that the time provided by the Senate Committee to gather your experiences was so brief.

We received dozens of stories in many forms — in person, over the phone, in writing via email, through social media and the list goes on. Tasmanians also reached out to us about other parts of their lives, sharing their stories as carers, as relatives interacting with the health system, with the justice system and with housing, transport and the general cost of living.

This consultation demonstrates the willingness of Tasmanians to share their voices, their experiences and their thoughts so systems can be improved and everyone has the opportunity to live a good life.

And it demonstrates the importance of decision-makers knowing the first-hand and life-changing impact their choices have on the day-to-day lives of the people they represent.

We will put the lived experiences Tasmanians shared with us these past two weeks in front of political decision-makers and public servants via the Newstart Senate Inquiry as well as through other channels.

Quantitative data and evidence are also vital tools for changing systems for the better and reinforce the reality and first-hand experiences. Without the tangible reality found in people’s accounts of life within support systems it is all too easy for decision-makers to forget they are tasked with achieving a better life for people in our community.

It is a privilege to listen to and hold these stories, to hear what Tasmanians have to say about their experiences, and to hear their resilience and their desire for change.

If you have a story about living on Newstart or related payments you would like to share, please contact Philippa Dixon, Policy Officer, on (03) 6169 9518 or email philippa@tascoss.org.au.