Australia

'There’s no hope': Emotional testimony as Newstart inquiry hits Adelaide

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A Senate committee has heard emotional testimony from South Australians living on the government’s unemployment benefit.

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 the government’s unemployment payment.

A Senate committee is currently looking into the rate of Newstart, which for a person who is single is currently $278 per week.

Rita Sacchetta, 54, has been unemployed since March and said living on the $40-per-day benefit is taking a heavy toll.

Ms Sacchetta said she regularly goes without food and rations her insulin so she can afford the medication.

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

“I’m angry," she told the inquiry in Adelaide.

“How am I supposed to move forward when every minute of every day is about surviving?

“There’s no hope. You have taken away any hope for a better life. And when there’s no hope, what is there?”

The jobless rate in South Australia is higher than the national average.

Two years ago the state was hit hard by the closure of car manufacturer Holden. Other manufacturing jobs have followed.

Rita Sacchetta (L) at the inquiry in Adelaide
Rita Sacchetta (L) at the inquiry in Adelaide

Gillian Aldridge, mayor of the City of Salisbury, said many people in her jurisdiction are doing it tough.

“Right through our areas we feed these people. They do not have a place to sleep and they do not have a place to eat,” she said.

The rate of Newstart has not risen in real terms for over two decades and there are calls from all sides of politics for an increase of around $75 per week.

Ms Sacchetta said raising the rate would help her find work.

“I would be healthy because I would be eating, I would be healthy because I would be taking my medication," she said.

“I could go and get some interview clothes. I could go get my hair cut. I could look presentable. I could go and get a bus ticket.

“The job networks do not provide these things.”

The committee is due to report back to federal parliament in March.

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