Budget hits hard for the vulnerable

Kim Sykes

Kim Sykes

THERE is a need to rethink any policy further embedding disadvantage, says Bendigo Community Health Services chief executive Kim Sykes.

"We seem to be driving this idea that if you're poor, or if you're without a job, if you're struggling, it must be your fault," Ms Sykes said.

"We can't allow a society to be built around that concept."

Ms Sykes raised her concerns about the Federal Budget during a meeting this week with Shadow Minister for Employment and Workforce Participation Brendan O'Connor.

Groups represented at the meeting included Haven; Home, Safe and Bendigo Community Health, The Salvation Army and other health and welfare agencies.

"The $7 co-payment to see a GP doesn't seem like much for many of us who are working," she said.

"But there's research that shows us that in the bottom decile of income, the proportion of income spent on out of pocket health care costs is seven times that which is spent by others.

"There is a real risk that many of the measures in this budget are going to affect the most vulnerable in our community more than they will affect others."

Mr O'Connor was in Bendigo at the invitation of Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters.

"I'd like to thank Lisa Chesters, the Member for Bendigo, for inviting me here to talk to community groups about the real concerns they have with the Budget that's been announced by the government last week," Mr O'Connor said.

"The changes to Medicare, forcing people to pay to see a doctor, we think will lead to decisions made by people not to bring their kids or themselves to a doctor when they're sick.

"We're also concerned about the cuts to the family tax benefits for families who are struggling.

"The petrol tax for families is a cruel blow for people having real difficulties making those decisions of where they take their kids, or even if they're just travelling to work.

"There's also the blow to unemployed job seekers - young people under the age of 30, who are going to face real difficulties keeping their accommodation, finding enough money to eat, because of the measure that will remove unemployment benefits for six months."

hannah.knight@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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