Last night's QandA was opened by Ricci Bartels - The questioner, named Ricci Bartels, said she was forced onto Newstart at the age of 62 following retrenchment at her former workplace, and more than three years later remains unable to find a job.
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) August 5, 2019
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) August 5, 2019
Neither Ms Bartels nor panellist Cassandra Goldie (ACOSS CEO) told us that until recently, Ms Bartels was a director of ACOSS, that she features in ACOSS press release material for its campaign to raise NewStart - and perhaps most importantly, that since early 2018 Ms Bartels has been an Age Pension recipient.
“After being on Newstart for 5-6 years, I was put on the age pension earlier this (2018),” says Ms Bartels.
“I’m feeling better. The extra money and not having to face Centrelink and apply for millions of jobs has made an enormous difference to my life.
“The increase in money provides you with an opportunity to rent a house or share rent whereas before I couldn’t do that.
“This reversal will be good for the many many mature age unemployed people who, no matter how much they try, are unable to get jobs they apply for.”
But Ms Bartel's appearance has resulted in headlines like these in the major newspapers today.
An elderly woman has shared her heartbreaking experience with Australia’s welfare system on live national television, leaving one of tonight’s Q&A panellists at a loss for words.
The questioner, named Ricci Bartels, said she was forced onto Newstart at the age of 62 following retrenchment at her former workplace, and more than three years later remains unable to find a job.
“What would you or how would you suggest people like me have a go to get a go?” she asked the panel, quoting Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Liberal MP Jason Falinski said he “doesn’t know enough” about the woman’s personal circumstances to comment, but said the government “has done a number of things to make sure our system is as bespoke as possible”.
Responding to him directly, the woman then shared more of her emotional story, revealing that being on Newstart has been “the worst time of my life”.
“The loss of dignity, the loss of friends because you can’t go out, you can’t socialise, not eating proper food even though I suffer from various ailments … for me it has been the worst time of my life,” the woman said.
“Jason, with respect, you haven’t answered my question. What do you suggest people like me, at my age, or at a young age for that matter … how do they have a go to get a go? This is so important. ‘Have a go, get a go’. It is so divisive.”
Mr Falinski appeared to be at a loss for words, before responding: “I can’t tell you how … I don’t know enough about your life circumstances to comment.
“All I can say is we as a Government are doing as much as we possibly can to create a system that allow people to get as quickly from welfare to work as possible. We have a very highly targeted welfare system in this country. It has been very successful in ensuring poverty levels and inequality are kept low.
Thanks to Seeker of Truth who sent us these details earlier today.
A Google search discloses information on Ricci Bartels and her work history courtesy of Linkedin. She is a community worker/refugee resettler who worked as Manager at the Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre for 31 years, and according to her Linkedin profile, she still works there. Maybe she forgot to update her profile when she was retrenched 3 years ago.
Here's a photo of Ms Bartels receiving the 2012 award as best Refugee Supporter in a paid role.
Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/image/117267#ixzz5vlsvogdG
But you might also notice on Ms Bartel's LinkedIn CV that she's a "Board Member of the Australian Council of Social Services".
And sure enough - click on the 2013 link and there she is:
One would have thought that panelist Cassandra Goldie, the CEO of ACOSS might have mentioned Ms Bartel's links to the organisation as she spoke about her struggle on NewStart.
Maybe it was a lapse in memory. Surprising though, given that Ms Bartels features in a quite recent ACOSS press release involving Ms Goldie.
ACOSS is running a campaign to raise NewStart.
Australia’s social safety net should allow people to afford to put a roof over their head and food on the table. The current rate of Newstart and related allowances does not cover the cost of basic essentials. It’s time to Raise the Rate.
Embarrassing for our nation indeed.