Local Goulburn District Unions are taking community action to a whole new level with a peaceful protest rally to highlight growing concerns over the state of our welfare safety net.  

On a cold, wet, winters day dozens of Goulburn residents came together to rally against the disgraceful state of the welfare system and try to change the perception that welfare recipients are bludgers.  

Goulburn District Unions Spokesperson Jason Shepard said the community is angry at both the state and federal Liberal governments for turning their back on the people who need support the most, spurring them to take matters into their own hands. 

“The purpose of the rally was to highlight that the majority of Welfare Recipients are forced to live well below the poverty line. That the level of benefits (especially Newstart) are purposefully kept low forcing disadvantaged people in our country to spend their days in a constant state of anxiety. Over one million Australians are forced to spend each and every day in basic survival mode. This is an untenable and disgraceful situation,” Mr Shepard said. 

“There are over 190 homeless people sleeping rough each night in Goulburn in harsh and hostile conditions and this is mainly because so many support services have closed down due to government funding cuts.  We can’t turn a blind eye any more. As a community we want a better deal.”

The community believe there are many areas of welfare delivery that need improvement and are calling to:

  • Change public perceptions around welfare.
  • End the demonization and dismissal of Welfare Recipients.
  • End the enforced poverty endured by over one million Australian Welfare Recipients.
  • Raise Newstart above the poverty level.
  • Increase funding to protect Australian Women from Domestic Violence.
  • Support Indigenous Australians in the quest to retain their communities; and
  • Stop the withdrawal of funding (ie. forced closure) of Indigenous Communities.

Speakers on the day covered a range of welfare related topics such as the need for funding of local women’s refuges, the need to protect Medicare and Bulk billing, the need to increase the availability of affordable housing, the need to stop reducing services and start reinstating them, the inescapable reality that poverty and mental illness are intertwined and as such more needs to be done to provide public mental health services, and the need to stop the demonisation of welfare recipients. 

This last point was driven home when Keith Davis a current welfare recipient highlighted the daily plight of welfare recipients: “The unfortunate reality is that currently most of the rest of our fellow Australians see us as an inconvenience, as an annoyance, as an embarrassment, as a blight, and as a drain on the public purse. That kind of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth, we are people just like you, that through bad luck are now in this position.” 

Goulburn District Unions are committed to campaigning for better jobs, rights and services for their community and more actions will take place in the near future.

The next Goulburn District Unions event will be the canned food and donation drive around union worksites in Goulburn for Angels For the Forgotten in lead up to Anti-Poverty Week which runs from the 11th - 17th of October this year.

To find out more about the work Goulburn Disctrict unions carries out, or to get the latest news from them head over to their Facebook page, Facebook.com/goulburndistrictunions.

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