The above image is just one of many memes that is shared around the internet about people who are on welfare aka Centrelink, although this is only one of a few that isn’t racist. Centrelink payments are my source of income. While I do complain about the lack of money I have, I also know how lucky I am to be in a country that offers these payments, without them I don’t know where I would be.
I hate that there are so many people who are taking the system for a ride, who have no qualms about lying to a system that is there to help those in need. These people make it so hard for those of us who are doing the right thing, who don’t lie and who genuinely struggle to make ends meet on the money they receive. I have to admit that I do have it easier than a lot of other people on Centrelink payments because I am in government housing. I don’t have to pay $300+ a week for the house that I live in, and for that I am grateful.
I am on a Disability Support Pension, I have been receiving these payments since I was 19. Did you know that a single independent person with no children under the age of 21 receives almost $300 less than someone over the age of 21 with the same circumstances. Last time I checked person aged under the age of 21 still has the same bills, still pays the same amount of rent and still has the same living expenses as someone over the age of 21. I struggled a lot with the payment I received before I turned 21.
Once my rent was paid I then had around $300 to last me a fortnight. The money often ran out by the end of the first week. The food I had managed to buy usually ran out about 3 days before I was due to receive my next payment. I admit that I was a lot more careless with my money back then. However $300 doesn’t go far when you rely on public transport, often taxis because of a ridiculously lacking bus system, to get you from place to place. There were times when I didn’t go to the doctor when I was sick because the closest bulk billing doctor was a $16 taxi ride away.
Did you know that Centrelink payments are not always paid at midnight on the day of payment? Sometimes they are, more often though it is closer to 2am before the payments reach your account. How do I know this? By the time payment day arrived I was usually starving, I hadn’t eaten anything substantial for nearly two days and I would stay up until my payment went into my account so that I could get something to eat from the nearby 24 hour service station.
This was in the time before I had a smart phone, before I had internet banking and so I would walk to the service station, which thankfully had an ATM of the bank I banked with so that I didn’t have to pay fees to check my balance. Sometimes the first time I checked my account there would be money in there. Often it wasn’t. I couldn’t hang around the service station because I had no money, I looked too suspicious.
If there was no money in my account on the first check I would then walk into the city, a 20 minute walk and check my account again at an ATM there. It was usually around 12:30am by this stage. I had no fear, or more accurately I didn’t care what happened to me. Usually the money was in my account by the time I walked into the city. Even if it wasn’t I would walk back to the service station to check my account again. I did this back and forth trek 4 times one night, my payment finally in my bank around 3am. Looking back I have no idea how I managed to do it with nothing in my stomach, how I wasn’t attacked by someone, how I didn’t run into trouble.
This post might seem like a bit of woe is me about the conditions I lived in but it’s not. It’s a reminder about the way that some people live. It’s a reminder that not everyone who is on welfare are bad, that most of them are just trying to live from payment to payment. I just ask you one thing, next time you want to tar all of us with the ‘dole bludger’ brush, to think about those of us who are doing the right thing. Those of us who are probably going without food or clothes for ourselves so that we can provide for our children. Those of us who are just trying to live with what we are given. Not all of us are taking the government for a ride.
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.