Calling for compassion in politics

MARCHING: Protesters head south down Mitchell Street. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

MARCHING: Protesters head south down Mitchell Street. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

DISABILITY pension changes, welfare reform and health funding were the subject of speeches during the Bust the Budget rally.

Politicians weren't the only ones to take to the podium, as several local community organisations voiced their opposition to Budget measures.

Bendigo Community Health Service chief executive Kim Sykes said while there were a number of individual concerns, they added up to a whole.

"This Budget isn't just about states getting less for health and hospitals, it's not just about co-payments to see a GP," she said.

"It's not just about family support.

"It's about what all of that together does to all of Australia.

"This Budget creates a divide."

Ms Sykes was among eight speakers in Bull Street who took aim at deregulation of university fees, the ongoing ambulance dispute and a change in direction for disability pensions.

Sandhurst Centre employee Jenni Fitt said disability paid carers could see their wage drop to as low as $14 an hour under changes to the sector.

"If services are fully contracted out and individuals funded under unit costs of $36 per hour, then potentially paid carers in the future will earn $14 to $16 an hour," she said.

"It takes a lot of imagination to get skilled and experienced support for $16 an hour.

"Abbott was given the tick of approval to keep the commitment to rolling out the NDIS, but I would suggest, be very nervous.

"NDIS should not be used to replace the quality services that we already have, yet it seems that this is the current agenda of contracting out."

Vice-president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union, James Rankin, spoke at the rally, along with National Union of Workers Bendigo branch's Luke Martin.

Bendigo paramedic Brett Adie also spoke about the challenges facing local paramedics.

Ann-Maree Davis of Amicus Group spoke of the changing dynamic for those on the Disability Support Pension, while Victorian secretary of the Australian Workers Union Ben Davis also addressed the gathering.


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