One Nations Pilbara candidate David Archibald states in the journal Quadrant that “single mothers are lazy and responsible for a “rapid rise in the portion of the population that is lazy and ugly” (Stephens, 2017). A statement he stands by to this day. He is calling for all welfare to be cut for all single mothers as he believes that they are simply too lazy to attract a mate (2017). His statements drew nationwide criticism, including One nations Pauline Hanson, a single mother herself, who tweeted “To all the fat lazy politicians & fat lazy journalists in the fat lazy media playing fat lazy, PC, identity politics- The answer is no.” (Hanson,2017)
Maybe I am silly, or vain, or just plain crazy. But I don’t consider myself to be ugly, or even remotely lazy, but I didn’t really think that the moment I became a single mother, my soul purpose in life was to go out and seek a new “mate” ASAP. I honestly believed that raising my kids not to be assholes, seeking ways to improve my situation through studying and finding employment was what I, as well as any other parent, might be aiming for when you’re essentially living on the poverty line.
The vilification of anyone who is a recipient of welfare has always been fair game. Everyone is placed into a different category, scrutinised as a collective group rather than have their individual circumstances considered. The government uses people on benefits as the scapegoat for cruel budget cuts which pushes them further and further below the poverty line, pedalling these cuts as “incentives’ for the recipients to go out and seek work. The media also enjoys a good crack at anyone living in poverty. With headlines like: Single parents told: ‘Get back to work’(Morton 2012) or Teen parents targeted in welfare crackdown (Kirk 2011) you would think being a single parent was a criminal offence and not someone who might very well be a victim.
Shows like ‘Struggle street’ showcasing a select group of families. Their lives carefully edited, cropped and tailored to fit neatly into the stereotype of the welfare recipient. Loud, crude, fat, taking drugs, drinking, smoking with extra-large families, broken marriages, or not married at all. These are the people that the media wants us to see, the ones “mooching off our hard earner tax”. These poor people, paraded around on our TV screens for the viewers to judge and scrutinise, likely sold a lie that they might be able to change their situation if they agreed to do the show. Many of whom probably didn’t poses the capacity to fully comprehend what would happen due to mental illness, their addictions and even a brain injury! Struggle street further dehumanise these victims of a broken country who does not care about the poor all for the ratings.
This isn’t the first show of its kind; Benefits street follows families living on Birmingham Street. Like ‘Struggle Street’ each family has been carefully selected to fit into the stereotype of the “typical” welfare recipient. A drug addict, a thief, and a small family where the parents don’t work. Even ‘Real Stories‘ did a documentary called ‘Benefits Britain‘ documents the lives of families in Britain who live on the dole. In Britain, this kind of TV series is extremely popular, being dubbed a kind of “poverty porn” where viewers get to watch the real lives of those struggling to keep themselves afloat in a world that only wants to mock and condemn them because of the hand they were dealt in life, as a form of entertainment.
In 2016, Australia had 181,000 job vacancies, 738,900 people unemployed, 1,095,975 people underemployed, 2,990,300 people below the poverty line (Freedom From Poverty 2017). Yet anyone without a job, like the single mothers, are told they’re lazy, they’re not trying hard enough. Our welfare system is meant to be the safety net for everyone. But with so little support, it is no wonder that the cycle of poverty continues and it is only going to get worse. These people’s lives, my life, is not something that should be abused for the entertainment of others. We are people with real problems like everyone else. We love, we laugh, cry, we have families, aspirations, hopes and dreams. We are humans too not TV show characters.
Stephens, K 2017, One Nation candidate sparks outrage, after describing single mothers as ‘too lazy to attract and hold a mate’, Feburary 1st, viewed 19 March 2017, http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/kids/one-nation-candidate-sparks-outrage-after-describing-single-mothers-as-too-lazy-to-attract-and-hold-a-mate/news-story/b04bf9207686410eeba5cf0c3732cae2
Morton, R, 2012, Single parents told to ‘Get back to work’, Mamamia, May 7, viewed 19 March 2017, http://www.mamamia.com.au/single-parent-pension-and-payments-should-single-parents-work/
Freedom From Poverty, 2017, March 17,https://www.facebook.com/endpovertyinoz/ : ABS ‘Job Vacancies, Australia Nov 2016’ –http://abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6354.0, ABS ‘Labour Force, Australia Feb 2017’ –http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6202.0, ACOSS ‘Poverty in Australia 2016’ –http://www.acoss.org.au/poverty/