Dole Bludgers

The stereotype of a WINZ client is the dole bludger. The useless layabout who really doesn’t have any interest in improving themselves. This is the character that always gets caught up in any debate about welfare, and it’s easy to hate such a character. The other common stereotype is the DPB mum, who had kids she couldn’t afford with a man that she didn’t even have enough of a relationship with for him to stick around. She’s another one that’s easy to hate, especially if she goes on to have more kids. But social welfare dependents are a much more diverse group than the stereotypists want you to think.

There are the people who had a good job until they came down with a debilitating illness. They’re hanging around on the Jobseeker Support because it’s damn hard to get a Supported Living Payment (or at least it was when it was still the Invalid’s Benefit) and we all know that sick people are really just lazy and should be looking for work.

There are people that are caring for severely ill relatives, who need to be around at all times, unless they find someone to take over for a while so they can grab groceries or have a break.

There are women (and men) who have been brave enough to leave an abusive relationship with their children, and in the process have lost the main breadwinner in the house. Of course, depending on the age of their children, they should probably be getting jobs right away, because everyone knows that you can walk away from an abusive situation one day and be fine for job hunting the next.

There are the physically disabled, who may be able to care for themselves but are severely limited in their job options, because many workplaces are simply not wheelchair friendly. Also, given two equally qualified candidates, the able-bodied is far more likely to get the job. People still discriminate against the disabled, but it gets dressed up as ‘not as well suited to our work environment’ or some other tripe.

There are the mentally disabled, who have incredibly limited employment opportunities, especially since sheltered work environments have been scaled back.

People say “oh but I don’t mean situations like these” when they go about bashing beneficiaries, but people like these make up the core of long-term beneficiaries. Most unemployment beneficiaries are off the dole in under a year, and only a few are still hanging around after four years. So when you support cuts to benefits, remember, these people, these vulnerable undeserving people, they are losing out more than anyone.

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