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Newstart recipients detail daily hardship to Senate inquiry

Rita Sacchetta says living on Newstart is taking a heavy toll. Source: SBS News

A diabetic South Australian woman has told a Senate inquiry she has to ration her use of insulin due to the financial difficulties of living on unemployment payments. A Senate committee has heard emotional testimony from those living on the government’s unemployment benefit Newstart, which is worth about $40 a day.

Fifty-four-year-old Rita Sacchetta has been unemployed since March. And she says living on Newstart is taking its toll. She says she regularly goes without food and even rations her insulin so she can afford the medication.

A Senate Committee inquiry is looking into the rate of the government’s unemployment payment, Newstart, which is currently $278 a week. The rate of the payment hasn’t risen in over two decades and there are calls from some for an increase.

The jobless rate in South Australia is higher than the national average and areas like northern Adelaide are no strangers to unemployment.

Two years ago the area was hit hard by the closure of car manufacturer Holden and other manufacturing jobs have followed.

It’s left some locals, like Aidan Jarvis, pessimistic about their future.

Newstart recipients like Rita Sacchetta say raising the rate would help them find work.

The Committee is due to report back to Parliament in March.

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