WHEN it comes to this year’s budget, people who need the most help are the ones who are going to suffer the most, says Sister Mary Trainor.
Sister Mary, who apart from her service as a Catholic nun worked in mental health and disability services for 20 years, said the ill, the elderly, the unemployed and the poor will suffer as a result of the new charges and cutbacks in this year’s budget.
“It’s creating two classes of people - the rich and the poor, the employed and the unemployed and the sick and the healthy,” she said.
“I think the budget is lacking in balance, I’m not happy.”
Sister Mary said she was alarmed to hear people will be forced to pay more for medical care including increases in the cost of medications, medical procedures and visits to the doctor.
“People who are chronically ill and take lots of pills and potions will find it very hard,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s going to have the desired affect, I think parents with little kids who are sick won’t take the child to the doctor, and the illness will just get worse.”
Changes to unemployment benefits which will make it harder for young people to access financial support will also have long-term implications, Sister Mary said.
“I think it’s going to impact on people’s stress levels and depression, and if people have nothing to do they might be tempted to engage in bad behaviour,” she said.
“The Youth Allowance is a pittance anyway, there’s already people who don’t have enough food to eat,” she said.
“I met a woman recently who was feeding her family but wasn’t eating herself.”
Sister Mary said she’s also concerned about raising the pension age to 70.
“It won’t fit everyone, it depends what job you do and what your mental capacity is,” she said.
“If you do a physically demanding job, what’s it going to do to your physical health?”
St Vincent de Paul Society’s chief executive Dr John Falzon described the budget as deeply offensive to the people for whom every day is already a battle.
“The government would like us to believe that this budget is tough but fair but for the people who struggle to make ends meet it can only be described as being tough but cruel,” he said.
“You don’t help young people or older people or people with a disability or single mums into jobs by making them poor.”
Disadvantaged young people have been ignored by a budget that “doesn’t pass the fairness test” according to The Smith Family’s general Manager for NSW and ACT Steve Macready.