16-year-old Rose Cox asked Social Services Minister Christian Porter a confronting question about welfare policy on ABC's Q&A program last night.
The government recently released a $96 million plan aimed at getting key demographic groups off welfare and into the workforce. The fund is called Try, Test and Learn, and will experiment with initiatives that help groups that have shown to be costing the tax-payer the most on welfare, such as young carers and young parents, who can spend on average as much as 45 years on welfare throughout their lives.
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However, Rose presented Christian Porter with her own situation on the program.
At the age of eight years old, she became a young carer for her mother, who was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease and became wheelchair dependent. Four years ago, her family unit broke down and her father is no longer in the picture, meaning that she and her younger sister are now the primary caregivers for her mother.
Currently, she is juggling her year 12 studies with her caring responsibilities, and is given $8 a day on welfare. So she raised her concerns in the form of this question:
"I don't want to be seen as a burden on the government, nor do I wish to be welfare dependent for my lifetime. How will a change to payments and policy understand the very unique and often stressful experiences of young carers like myself and my sister?"
Porter responded that the government was looking at small groups and trying to better understand the situations of young carers. Currently, there are 11,200 young people on young carers payments, and about 1800 people of that group will never leave the welfare system. He explained that the government was trying to design policies around smaller groups with the data they'd found to make things better. However at this stage, the government didn't have a solution for her.
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Rose responded with this last statement:
"The money that I get on the payment, and the money that the government uses...I just think that there must be a better way that you need to do this, but the way that you propose, you have no ideas so far."