Half a Citizen: Life on Welfare in Australia

By John Murphy; Suellen Murray et al. | Go to book overview

5
Working lives

To be employed is everything … That makes the man, or the woman.

—Justin, aged 50, NSA

Justin had worked for a transport company for over twenty years when he lost his job through redundancy four years before our first interview. He had worked his way up through the organisation and had been in a wellpaid, senior management role when he was shocked to discover he was no longer employed. Being unemployed was ‘degrading’ and he struggled to get further ongoing work. For Justin, work was ‘very important’—a view very common among the people we interviewed, and not just because of the financial rewards that came with it.

Another trend that we found among our participants was that often people were working—a phenomenon at odds with commonly held beliefs about those receiving welfare assistance. Much of the focus of policy discussions is based on the notion of transitions from welfare to work that assume a linear progression. Yet rarely are people’s relationships with work and welfare so simple. Individuals move in and out of work at different points throughout their lives for a whole range of reasons that may include health problems, caring commitments and family responsibilities, a mismatch between skills, qualifications and labour needs, as well as age-related discrimination. Some may move into decent and sustainable work and cease to be in need of income support, some

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Half a Citizen: Life on Welfare in Australia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Tables and Figures xi
  • 1 - The Receiving End of Welfare 1
  • 2 - Poverty, Deprivation, Resilience 22
  • 3 - Housing 47
  • 4 - Social Connections 68
  • 5 - Working Lives 89
  • 6 - Barriers to and Support for Working 113
  • 7 - Welfare as Work- Dealing with Centrelink 138
  • 8 - Values and Ethics about Income Support 165
  • Afterword- In the No-Standing Zone 189
  • Appendix 1- The Research Project 194
  • Appendix 2:the Characteristics of Our Participants 201
  • Notes 206
  • Bibliography 221
  • Index 233
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