CAAN has shared a number of reports now about Australian citizens who have fallen to misfortune … through accidents, ill health, marriage breakdown … and all the rest … to lose their jobs! To then be subjected to this cruel system!

YET a new ‘permanent resident’ can enrol in Medicare if they have a permanent resident visa

AND … those who have applied for either a ‘permanent residency visa’ or a ‘permanent protection visa’ can also enrol in Medicare …

The Australian Government is so caring, and can fund those who fly in and buy our real estate to gain ‘permanent residency’; fund the bureaucracy to run this, and yet when Australian citizens who have paid full taxes in many cases for decades but who have lost their jobs find themselves subjected to “Newstart”!

IT would also seem that with such high immigration and visa manipulation that the huge cost to Australia’s Medicare is being borne by those on lengthy hospital waiting lists suffering much pain and discomfort …


‘Even cutting back, this story shows this is more than mere subsistence survival.

It is a demeaning, demoralising and totally unjustifiale situation. I’ll thump the next person whom I hear say, ‘dole bludger’. That sport caused this problem by prolonging the myth that the unemployed lived well, compliments of the taxpayer. And they never have.’

From another … ‘It’s about the stress of having so little’

Many commentators reinforce Cait Kelly’s experience ..

Eating food out of bins: I lived off Newstart for two weeks to see how far it actually goes

Cait Kelly

Cait Kelly Reporter


My boss said I couldn’t do it. My friends said I’d blow it.

With my penchant for pinot, late-night pizzas and my Princes Hill pad, they said, there was absolutely no way in hell I could live off Newstart. Not for a day.

But I was determined to do the impossible – live off the meagre sum of Newstart for a fortnight.

This was not my first rodeo; I had lived off the payments for two years when I was studying and working as a casual in retail.

The dollars that dropped into my account every second Thursday helped me get through slow winters at the shop while I finished my degree part-time.

I lived off Newstart for two weeks to see how far the payments actually go.
I lived off Newstart for two weeks to see how far the payments go. Photo: The New Daily

But that was two years ago, at the time I was paying $420 a month for the ‘Preston Palace’ that came with holes in the roof, mould that seeped into our clothes and no heating.

With all the current Newstart chatter I decided to opt back into poverty – to see how ‘liveable’ the safety net actually is.

I gave myself the full individual payment and rent allowance – $692.90 all up.

There is absolutely no way someone living off Newstart could afford an inner-city house, even an old five-bedroom share house like mine.

So I deducted the average fortnightly rent paid by those on Newstart – $456.45.

Leaving me with $236.45 for the duration of the challenge. That’s $16.88 a day.

At the start I was confident, almost cocky. I bought a $12 beer and thought nothing of it.

But then I lost my phone charger. My shampoo dried up. I needed to feed myself three times a day and get around.

The stress seeped in.

It’s a feeling 25-year-old Rhys Walker has daily. He said he barely gets by.

“Even for people who don’t have mental health conditions, living on Newstart, sorry, subsisting on Newstart, is a living hell filled with stress,” Mr Walker said.

The Brisbane man said he gets food hampers, uses Afterpay to buy clothes and budgets $60 a month for food – just to make it through each week.

“I go to Coles and Woolies at 8pm on Friday and Saturday nights to look for heavily marked-down produce,” he said.

“I also use websites like Frugal Feeds to find bargains when I’m too tired to cook.

“One big thing I do is collect cans when I go walking to take to the refund scheme and get some extra cash.”

As the days of my Newstart challenge rolled on, I remembered how exhausting it was. Watching every cent was mentally draining.

Yum! Reaching for the cheapest bottle of Shiraz on the shelf. Photo: The New Daily

You go to multiple supermarkets and meticulously plan each meal. One evening, I bought a brown onion for 73 cents which derailed my budget.

But unlike people actually seeking a job, I went to work each day, where it was warm and I didn’t have to pay for heating.

I charged my phone and sucked up the office Wi-Fi. It was a welcoming distraction from my dwindling bank account.

One lunchtime we had free pizza. A few times my boss took pity and took me out for coffee. They were little luxuries.

Other than that I didn’t drink coffee – I couldn’t spare the change.

I did try to give up my other major vice – but on day nine I cracked and bought a packet of cigarettes for a whopping $31 (I know, I know …).

I probably could have done without the $8 bottle of wine, too.

I usually eat out a couple of times a week, and I buy my lunch when I forget to pack it. But on Newstart, there is no financial room for mistakes.

I foraged supermarkets for bargains, planned meals days in advance and froze leftovers.

Eventually I got sick of eating noodles – and actually fell ill from eating a week-old shepherds pie.

One night I broke. Instead of going home to my Stan free trial (not that I could really afford the home Wi-Fi) I went out for dinner with a mate.

A plate of falafels, and $14.30 later, I was completely over budget.

By day eight I was climbing into dumpsters in search of food (something I used to do regularly while I was living on Newstart).

I dodged tram ticket inspectors when it was raining, and walked 50 minutes to work other days to save a few bucks.

The boxes of chocolates I found in the dumpster
Win! I found seven boxes of chocolates in a rubbish bin – and made all my mates try them. Photo: The New Daily

Then came an email from my housemate. It was the electricity bill –  $122.33 for my share. And with that, it was game over.

But that was the thing – I got to tap out after two weeks. I paid my bill and went back to my salaried life.

Others I’ve spoken to don’t have that option – they’re stuck with the difficult task of just trying to get by.

Every little expense bringing you closer to falling through the cracks.

Perth-based Sarah Lane, 41, doesn’t even know if she’ll have a house in two weeks.

Ms Lane is in the process of moving. She’s crunched the numbers and needs $2128.10.

“Nearly 12 months ago I secured this rental, but the property is being taken back by the owner. I have to move in 10 days,” she said.

“I’ve considered going into my super and taking it out on hardship, but I need that. I haven’t worked in four years, I have a spinal injury.”

For Ms Lane, this move could easily make her homeless.

“I’m going back to couch-surfing again to avoid homelessness. You can’t live on Newstart. There is no way to survive.”



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