Guest post by Rachael Price
Dear Australian Liberal National Party
My name is Rachael. I am a second year university student. I am under 30 years of age. I am unemployed. I will be impacted by your changes to the eligibility criteria for Youth Allowance.
Before you considered implementing these changes I was excited at the prospect of graduating from university: of course I was worried about my chances of gaining employment fresh out of uni, but I was focused on getting my degree and succeeding in the eyes of society.
Right now, I am shitting myself due to the six months I will be without financial support. I am certain this genius (this is sarcasm) brain fart was conceptualised with a certain stereotype in mind. This is the Liberal Party’s perception that us selfish Gen Ys have successful parents who would be able to feed, clothe, house and drive us around for six months while we apply for 40 jobs and go to all the job interviews we’ll get (more sarcasm).
It is obvious you kept this stereotype of “the ideal Australian LNP voting family” in mind when you ignored the fact that 719,700 Australians were unemployed in May 2014. You kept this stereotype in mind when you ignored the fact that there were only 146,100 job vacancies in Australia during May 2014. It looks to me like the numbers don’t exactly add up. You kept this stereotype at the forefront of your minds when you ignored the fact that 2,265,000 Australians are living below the poverty line. My family falls below this line.
My family is my mother. She works two jobs, seven days per week and still does not earn enough from her jobs to pay rent, bills and living costs. Unlike your stereotype of drinking, partying hard and going to music festivals I give most of the money I receive from Centrelink (i.e. taxpayers) to my mother so I can continue to live at home. She would not be able to keep me at home without this money.
When I graduate and you deem me unfit to receive support to live, I will have to leave home. I have no other family. I have nowhere to go. To tell me to go to an already struggling charity sector displays your lack of compassion and knowledge of the amount of support they are able to provide. According to Homelessness Australia there are currently 105,237 people who are without a home in country you were appointed to lead and care for.
Another stereotype you kept in mind was that us Gen Ys are lazy and selfish. Halfway through my first year of university I was fortunate enough to gain an unpaid internship in the industry I wish to work in after I graduate. I have been there 12 months today and hopefully I can continue to work there until I complete my education. This will give me around 30 months of on-the-job experience and maybe just enough to gain employment out of uni. But employers expect up to three years experience. The only way to get experience is to work in unpaid internships. In case you missed it, the key word is UNPAID. While companies know they can get a recently graduated student to do work for nothing, they will not consider paying them for it. At the moment, I am getting in to debt for a degree that might not be used.
When I leave uni, not only will I most likely be rejected from employment but I will also be rejected from financial support too. You might achieve your goal of a surplus of money but not without gaining a surplus of societal problems. Crime will increase. Prostitution will increase. Suicides will increase. Mental health will deteriorate. This budget is cruel. It was shaped by crude stereotypes that you have applied to every single young person in Australia. You have no idea what you are doing to my generation. Or you do and you just don’t care. If that’s the case, who’s the selfish generation now?