I think the amount that Centrelink’s Newstart pays is disgusting. Less than $450 a fortnight. How is anybody meant to live on that? Having said that, if you must, I think one needs to be savvy. I just read Dwayne Pitts story on Sydney Morning Herald. His fortnightly grocery list comprises “mince meat, sausages, milk, bread, bananas, pasta, juice and a soft drink” and costs him about “$70 to $80”. To me, that doesn’t look like money well spent. But Dwayne probably doesn’t know any better.
I read a comment the other day calling for Job Services Australia to be centralised. The case was compelling as it would remove several layers of dead wood, would cost less to administrate as a result and would make it easier for job seekers. Such a department ought to provide counselling and budget assistance. Obviously, people like Dwayne need assistance with their budget.
It’s a common misconception that eating healthy is expensive. I can make a nutrient-packed soup for less than $5 that will yield about 8 serves. Sure, it requires a bit of know-how and shopping around to find cheap produce but making the soup is within anybodies grasp. Pot of water. Stock cube and maybe a few herbs and spices (why not give a few packets of herb seeds to people on benefits?). Veggies. Boil. Blitz in a blender if you’ve got one. If not, eat it chunky. Delicious and healthy. And the varieties are endless–stick to what’s seasonal and you’ll pay less.
Hey, maybe my views are simplistic. Well, they are as I don’t know the circumstances of each and every person. However, budgeting and home cooking aren’t skills that the program teaches. These are soft skills and they are vital. The program instead concentrates on having them find work. And it’s ineffective at this for the most part.