I was going to write a post criticising Tony Abbott, his Liberal Party colleagues and sympathisers, for thinking that attacking those receiving welfare payments is a valid policy perspective and not just a cheap shot that undermines trust within the community. But I have decided I cannot be bothered.
I feel so strongly about the importance of supporting one another and also the negative impact the implication that those receiving support are unworthy that it is just making me cross and unable to articulate the issues properly. All I really want to say is that the negative consequences for the individuals receiving payments and the community as a whole far outstrip any financial benefits – if a perception is created (or amplified) that those receiving benefits are undeserving then all that happens is we further marginalise that group and make those paying taxes resent doing so!
I am more than open to debate about how to support participation and engagement in the community but I do not think that it begins and ends with employment and I know it will be a more expensive process that the current welfare system. It would involve quality education and support for training, it would require employers (including the governments) to adapt workplaces and work practices to fit a wide variety of workers. But more importantly it would work to support the development of active and engaging communities that worked to undo the marginalisation of so many Australians.
I believe it is only through community that we will increase engagement and reduce the current isolation of welfare. I think that it is communities that education, employ and support each other and that if we support communities we can work towards sustainable employment structures Abbott claims to be seeking. Without community one-off pilot schemes with thrive and even if employers can be enticed to take one a new batch of employees they will only keep them as long as the incentives last. With a more sustainable structure we can do so much more – and benefit all rather than undermine us all by diminishing trust.