I have been advocating for myself and others on income support for 18 months. When I started, I did not expect to be going this long but the past few years have been rough. I am on Youth Allowance and this year I’ve often been sick and have frequently had to forgo health care to pay for rent. I regularly went without food and what I did eat was of poor quality. I live far away from where I study, and the commute saps my time. They say, ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps,’ and I try, but when your income is low, the laces break in the process.
The amount I am paid to attend university makes studying, finding work, or succeeding at all, hard and unpleasant. The low rate of income support keeps people like me in poverty and is the key barrier between us and the opportunities that could change our lives. Yet raising income support is what legislators are most unwilling to do.
Poverty is an inescapable circumstance, but politicians frame our situation as a choice, even though they have the most agency in changing our lives. They will not help unless we force them.
ACOSS are one of the only organisations that are dedicated to raising voices like mine and placing them on front pages, in ministerial offices and at the heart of our political narrative. Without them, I am sure my circumstances would be much grimmer, and I am incredibly grateful.