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Tony Abbott wants to get tough on welfare bludgers. Hear! Hear!

By Naomi Anderson - posted Friday, 8 April 2011

Dear Mr Abbott,

Let me tell you a story.

Joshua is a young man. He finds school tedious because he is not academically inclined.  He is more of a hands-on kind of guy.  Nonetheless he sticks it out through high school, and attains his VCE. That is what his teachers have told him he needs to do.


When he graduates, he looks for work. The casual work he has dries up as he gets older and more expensive. The kids who left school at Year 10 have taken the apprenticeships and trainee roles he is now applying for.  He is ineligible for any Centrelink benefits because his parent earns $60,000p.a - most of which goes to paying rent.

He enrols in a pre-apprenticeship to be an electrician - paying over a thousand dollars - and passes with excellent grades. Out of 30 students in the class, one of them finds an apprenticeship - the other 29 are still unemployed.

Determined to do something, he takes a cash-in-hand job in the construction industry. There is no safety training, no OH&S or no work cover.  When he becomes injured, he cannot work and there is no compensation to pay for support or treatment.

Thrown into the public health system, his days are now taken up with long waiting lists and three hour waits for a ten minute appointment. It takes months to get the appropriate therapy, and he loses more strength and capacity as time goes by. His spirit sinks as he sees no way out of this downward spiral and he applies for the Disability Support Pension simply to make ends meet.

He is now in his early twenties. He is ineligible for the DSP as he has the capacity to work. However the endless medical appointments, many of which are simply to write referrals and confirm his eligibility for items like a brace or therapy, make it extremely difficult for him to be able to commit to full time work. All potential jobs require a physical capacity he does not have or availability for full time work.

Meanwhile a large company needs an electrician. They cannot find one locally so they hire a New Zealander - who is skilled and work ready. They also think about hiring an apprentice and through sheer good luck, Joshua gets an interview for the role.


However to get into the premises, he needs a hand rail to be affixed to the staircase at the entrance. He can get funding for workplace modifications - but he needs to get the job first. He can potentially get the job, but he needs to get the workplace modifications first to prove he can do it.

Ultimately the company decides to hire a second year apprentice. The small business then loses the apprentice. Having invested so much energy in training the first one, they don't have time to go through this all over again so they do not hire another one.  

Joshua has no job and no prospect of finding a job.

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About the Author

Naomi Anderson has worked in the human resources field for over fifteen years, and is the parent of a person with a disability. Passionate about creating positive change in areas of human rights and disability, she is the founder of

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