Doing the 'hard yakka': Implications of Australia’s workfare policies for disabled people

Alan Morris*, Shaun Wilson, Karen Soldatic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter examines life on neoliberal welfare in Australia. We first scrutinise the ongoing changes in disability support since the start of the 1990s. The analysis illustrates how eligibility for the disability benefit has tightened and become more conditional over the last two decades. A crucial development is that an increasing number of disabled people who previously qualified for the disability support pension have been forced on to the unemployment benefit (Newstart) which is far less generous than the disability benefit. The second part of the chapter discusses the adequacy problems of the Newstart benefit and ongoing deficiencies in Australia’s welfare-to-work model. The final section examines the lived experience of Newstart recipients in an inner-city neighbourhood in Sydney. Drawing on in-depth interviews with Newstart recipients and survey research, it examines the impacts of having to survive on the extremely low Newstart benefit. The data illustrates that living on Newstart is a life of ‘hard yakka’, one where individuals are constantly faced with severe financial pressures which, in turn, have dire impacts on their living circumstances, social ties, health and capacity to (re)enter the work-force. The chapter highlights that for the growing disabled cohort dependent on Newstart life will be exceptionally difficult.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisabled People, Work and Welfare
Subtitle of host publicationIs Employment Really the Answer?
EditorsChris Grover, Linda Piggott
Place of PublicationBristol, UK
PublisherPolicy Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781447318354
ISBN (Print)9781447318323
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

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