Disability pension is not enough to buy food | Busselton-Dunsborough Courier


A woman on a disability pension burst into tears in front of senators as she asked for enough money to eat.

Ricki Spencer said she would end up with $ 20 or $ 30 “over a good fortnight” for food after rent, bills and medications were paid for with her pension.

When the cost of her medicine rose during the pandemic, she was forced to skip meals and eat only canned goods purchased previously, for two months.

Ms Spencer asked for an extra $ 30 per fortnight so that she could afford fresh milk and food that she didn’t need to scrape to eat.

“I’m embarrassed to say it, I never thought in my whole life that I would look at food that had gone extinct because I needed to eat,” she tearfully told a Senate committee.

“I always thought I would work and now I feel like I’m old and no one wants me to work.

“I am just at the mercy of the government.”

Ms Spencer said she had to beg realtors to let her rent accommodation despite not missing rent payments for eight years because she had no savings or pension from retirement.

She was so afraid of being homeless and not being able to afford housing that she told the officer that she would not complain, take care of the garden and accept the house as that she was.

Housing safety advocates told the committee that unsuitable housing for people like Ms Spencer – who have had to walk up and down stairs – impacts their health and prevents them from actively participating in society.

Thomas Chailloux of the Public Interest Advocacy Center said people receiving a disability pension were at risk of becoming homeless because their complex and fluctuating needs could not be met with the current rate.

Poor housing and a lack of money for rent would then spiral when people stop buying medicine and food in the hope that they can afford a safe place to sleep.

Associated Australian Press


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