‘They are in dire need of help’: Why Job Seekers Are Not Enough When You Fight Cancer | Australia News

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Since being diagnosed with cancer in the middle of the year, Tim Hurley has relied on the support of his family and friends to get him to the hospital five times a week.

They also brought her meals and helped cover the cost of medicines and other essentials.

Although Hurley has nothing but praise for the healthcare system, he said Australia’s welfare system is not equipped to support people like him.

“We are fortunate to have the medical system that we have in Australia,” he said. “It’s just that Centrelink needs an update. “

Hurley is one of more than 7,000 people in Australia living on the $ 45 a day payment for job seekers, although the government recognizes their capacity to work is limited due to a cancer diagnosis .

Hurley is exempt from mutual obligations such as finding work, but there is no financial recognition that he is too ill to work enough to earn a decent income.

And it will be for a while.

Instead, there is only the Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is well below the poverty line and $ 338 per fortnight less than the Disability Pension.

“I’m definitely not a job seeker right now,” said Hurley, 55. “It’s a little insulting to fight so hard. I have been a freelance trader and an artist who paid taxes most of my life.

“I worked hard for this country… [It] It’s just like an added burden when you have something like that.

Guardian Australia revealed in October that the Cancer Council was concerned about the low compensation rates for job seekers and that the strict eligibility criteria for disability pension meant thousands of people with cancer were battling it. cancer while living in poverty.

The Australian Medical Association has now joined those who have expressed concerns about the inability of the welfare system to support people with cancer – as well as those with other temporary illnesses.

“Right now the system is not supporting them (people with cancer),” said Richard Kidd, chairman of the Australian Medical Association‘s Board of General Practitioners.

Advocates have offered various options to resolve the issue. Most say raising the payment of job seekers to the poverty line would ensure that people with temporary illnesses – as well as those without work – are properly supported.

Others say a specific payment – paid at the disability pension rate – could be provided on a temporary basis until a person has recovered and is able to work again.

Another suggestion is to relax disability pension eligibility, in particular the requirement that a condition be “fully diagnosed, fully treated and fully stabilized”.

As written, the requirement excludes many people unable to work due to temporary illnesses, such as cancer, and also makes it more difficult to obtain the pension for those with chronic illnesses, degenerative illnesses. and mental health issues.

In a submission to an ongoing disability pension review, WADA said “defining ‘stabilized’ is problematic when the patient may have progressive, episodic or fluctuating impairment”.

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