NEWSTART: recipient Stewart Ginn often chooses between food and medicine each week and recipient of 11 years, David Barrett.
NEWSTART: recipient Stewart Ginn often chooses between food and medicine each week and recipient of 11 years, David Barrett. Zac O'Brien

'Food or meds': The human faces of Bundy's Newstart struggle

DAVID Barrett has been receiving Newstart since the death of his partner 11 years ago.

Operating machinery during cane crushing season, he can afford to keep a car until the crush is over, but said he doesn't get by for the rest of the year, being a liability to employers due to his deafness in one ear.

Mr Barrett yesterday gave an insight into the world of struggle that those on Newstart feel after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg this week said the payment was adequate and most recipients moved on to a job within 12 months.

There are new calls for Newstart payments to be reviewed for those surviving on the payment for years at a time.

Church and community groups are attempting to pick up the slack for those in need of meals before their next pay cheque, but recipients still needed to make sacrifices to get by.

Stewart Ginn said he suffered from mental breakdowns, but often had to choose between buying food or medicine.

In regional centres particularly, Mr Ginn said there was a "big lack of mental health support".

Mr Ginn said he was a qualified chef before mental health complications led to losing his job on the Sunshine Coast.

Putting those in need at ease falls to groups like Angels Community Group, who prepare emergency food packages and weekly lunches for children who go to school without.

Local employment agency manager Melissa Latter said work would become available in seasons, with unskilled labour and blue collar work popular in the cane crushing seasons, while a growth in the retail sector would come around Christmas.

However Salvation Army Captain Chris Millard says in the long run, finding entry-level work will become more difficult.

"There's a lack of entry-level work due to a technology-driven world," he said.

Captain Millard said the problem of a high unemployment rate in Bundaberg was multi-faceted, not just because "people are bludgers".

Spokesperson for Global Care Bundaberg, Yale Morgan, said feeling a sense of community was essential to those struggling as it lessened the alienation felt by the 10,000 clients that use Global Care each year in Bundaberg.

"Show them that they are loved, that they are welcome, that they are part of the community," he said.

The Department of Social Services has said they would provide specific information about Newstart in the Hinkler electorate to the Newsmail today.