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Health, Well Being and Working Poverty Helen Masterman-Smith and Jude Elton Centre for Work and Life University of South Australia Hawke Research Institute.

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Presentation on theme: "Health, Well Being and Working Poverty Helen Masterman-Smith and Jude Elton Centre for Work and Life University of South Australia Hawke Research Institute."— Presentation transcript:

1 Health, Well Being and Working Poverty Helen Masterman-Smith and Jude Elton Centre for Work and Life University of South Australia Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies

2  Low Paid Services Employment in Australia: Dimensions, Causes, Effects and Responses  Funding: Australian Research Council, Liquor Hospitality Miscellaneous Workers Union, Brotherhood of St Laurence, SA Unions, Unions NSW, Victorian Trades and Labour Council  Research team: Barbara Pocock (Uni of SA), John Buchanan (Sydney Uni), Ian Watson (Sydney Uni), Iain Campbell (RMIT Uni), Susan Oakley (Adelaide Uni)

3 Changing workplace environments  ‘Work’ as a fundamental social determinant of health – availability and quality…  Implications of WorkChoices for low paid?  AIRC President Giudice: ‘people with low skills, low bargaining power are headed for the five minimum conditions..which will have an effect on their incomes..This will be accompanied by a slowdown in the rate of growth of minimum wages - that’s what the Fair Pay Commission is for’  ‘I can assure you it s going to affect our society’

4 The study  Low paid workers: $14/hr - $530/wk - $26800/year  National research SA – childcare workers SA – childcare workers Vic - cleaners Vic - cleaners NSW - luxury accommodation workers NSW - luxury accommodation workers  Focus: workers, households, communities  Recruitment: LHMU, BSL, advertising  Larger project participants (interviews/focus groups) participants (interviews/focus groups) HILDA analysis HILDA analysis

5  Low paid work: 14% (mid 90s) to 20% (2003) 29% (2.6m) of all workers on < $500pw Concentrated in service sectors Strong connection with casual/part-time employment  Low paid workers: Mostly female, yrs Over-represented: young people, women, CALD Dimensions of low pay

6 Health on a low wage  Not all low paid in poverty  Working poor = time and income poverty Fewer benefits (health, travel), more costs (travel, training, equipment) Fewer benefits (health, travel), more costs (travel, training, equipment) Deep sense of struggle and deprivation Deep sense of struggle and deprivation I only have incoming calls... my daughter’s rent pays the groceries. No luxuries.. I will live in a rented home for the rest of my life (Fay, 43, cleaner, Melbourne)I only have incoming calls... my daughter’s rent pays the groceries. No luxuries.. I will live in a rented home for the rest of my life (Fay, 43, cleaner, Melbourne) Tough on household relationships and social networks Tough on household relationships and social networks I’ve been really stressed out… July was my shocking one. Kids couldn’t even look at me ‘cause I had so many bills … I had rego … I had everything… I have to find a full time job. I can’t cope any more. Well because the rent’s going up all the time too (Cathy, 40s, lone parent of 2 children, cleaner, Adelaide)I’ve been really stressed out… July was my shocking one. Kids couldn’t even look at me ‘cause I had so many bills … I had rego … I had everything… I have to find a full time job. I can’t cope any more. Well because the rent’s going up all the time too (Cathy, 40s, lone parent of 2 children, cleaner, Adelaide)  Health treatment and prevention are a luxury

7 Individuals  Physical well being Workplace hazards – chemicals, sick children Workplace hazards – chemicals, sick children Endless work Endless work Long hours/overwork/on-callLong hours/overwork/on-call No retirementNo retirement I’m going to work til I can work. … I want to keep working and pay off my debts (John, 65, cleaner, Melbourne). I’m going to work til I can work. … I want to keep working and pay off my debts (John, 65, cleaner, Melbourne). No rest or recreationNo rest or recreation  Emotional/mental well being Depression, anxiety Depression, anxiety Pressure for money..I have no money, upset, start trouble.. I feel squashed, can’t relax (Paul, 47, cleaner, Melbourne)Pressure for money..I have no money, upset, start trouble.. I feel squashed, can’t relax (Paul, 47, cleaner, Melbourne) Humiliation, shame, ‘a different world’ Humiliation, shame, ‘a different world’ ‘these people that have got a bit of money to flash… and I can’t even afford to buy myself a bloody meal … I got told by Centrelink the other day that I’m living beyond my means and I laughed… I don’t need her to tell me that...you feel like an absolute dickhead and a failure’ (Ebony, 29, mother of 3, childcare worker, Adelaide)‘these people that have got a bit of money to flash… and I can’t even afford to buy myself a bloody meal … I got told by Centrelink the other day that I’m living beyond my means and I laughed… I don’t need her to tell me that...you feel like an absolute dickhead and a failure’ (Ebony, 29, mother of 3, childcare worker, Adelaide)

8 Households/Families  Low paid workers often do long hours = families/households miss out on both time and $$s  Relationship pressures … they always expect grandma to be able to feed them and have cakes and lollies and take them to places and that's where I get really upset that I can't (Diana, 50s, cleaner, Adelaide) … they always expect grandma to be able to feed them and have cakes and lollies and take them to places and that's where I get really upset that I can't (Diana, 50s, cleaner, Adelaide)  Care commitments (Susan’s mum) It’s not a very flexible job … I’ve got an elderly mother who needs to go to the doctors nearly every other Wednesday but I can’t do that anymore (Susan, 50s, private nanny, Adelaide) It’s not a very flexible job … I’ve got an elderly mother who needs to go to the doctors nearly every other Wednesday but I can’t do that anymore (Susan, 50s, private nanny, Adelaide)  Children go without Health care, dental, medicineHealth care, dental, medicine School excursions, educational participationSchool excursions, educational participation Sports participationSports participation Home heatingHome heating Meals, good mealsMeals, good meals ClothingClothing Transport for eventsTransport for events HolidaysHolidays Basic leisureBasic leisure Parental timeParental time Ebony buys … ‘home brand or the bargain of the week…it’s not …the leanest chicken or the leanest meat to actually promote good health. And also being running around heaps …often I have to get [the kids] lunch order …so sometimes it becomes a bit of an unorganised household which also becomes a bit more expensive which also creates not eating healthy and … not taking time out for yourself’ (Ebony, 20s, mother of 3, child care worker) Ebony buys … ‘home brand or the bargain of the week…it’s not …the leanest chicken or the leanest meat to actually promote good health. And also being running around heaps …often I have to get [the kids] lunch order …so sometimes it becomes a bit of an unorganised household which also becomes a bit more expensive which also creates not eating healthy and … not taking time out for yourself’ (Ebony, 20s, mother of 3, child care worker)

9 Community  Many examples of withdrawal from social relationships, organisations, activities Social world shrinks Social world shrinks..I don’t go out and visit because its another 20 minute drive and I can’t afford that (Molly, childcare worker, Adelaide)..I don’t go out and visit because its another 20 minute drive and I can’t afford that (Molly, childcare worker, Adelaide) Catching up with friends, its rare now (Jenni, 20s, childcare worker, Adelaide)Catching up with friends, its rare now (Jenni, 20s, childcare worker, Adelaide)  Community/social support networks stretched Mutual aid/support networks struggling with diminishing resources Mutual aid/support networks struggling with diminishing resources A lady was moving out over the road or they got thrown out or something and I had her and her kids come over and she asked me could she stay here for awhile and she was here two or three weeks, I've had that quite a few times (Diana, 50s, single grandmother supporting grandchild, cleaner, Adelaide)A lady was moving out over the road or they got thrown out or something and I had her and her kids come over and she asked me could she stay here for awhile and she was here two or three weeks, I've had that quite a few times (Diana, 50s, single grandmother supporting grandchild, cleaner, Adelaide) Capacity building undermined Capacity building undermined I'm not doing it now because of this job but I was … involved [voluntarily in] taking kids to court and … sitting with them while they've got access to a parent... (Diana, 50s, single grandmother supporting grandchild, cleaner, Adelaide)I'm not doing it now because of this job but I was … involved [voluntarily in] taking kids to court and … sitting with them while they've got access to a parent... (Diana, 50s, single grandmother supporting grandchild, cleaner, Adelaide) Sick workers – public safety, burden on health care system Sick workers – public safety, burden on health care system I’m probably likely to actually come into work feeling under the weather because you know you’ve got no sick leave or no TOIL [time of in lieu] or anything like that (Donna, 30s, childcare worker, Adelaide)I’m probably likely to actually come into work feeling under the weather because you know you’ve got no sick leave or no TOIL [time of in lieu] or anything like that (Donna, 30s, childcare worker, Adelaide)

10 Prevention  Financial constraints Delaying treatment Delaying treatment I don’t go to the dentist.. I’m scared to go in case he finds something I can’t afford (Paula, 55, mother of 2, two cleaning jobs, Melbourne)I don’t go to the dentist.. I’m scared to go in case he finds something I can’t afford (Paula, 55, mother of 2, two cleaning jobs, Melbourne) Cutting back on healthy/sufficient food and exercise Cutting back on healthy/sufficient food and exercise [After work] I haven’t recharged from the day yet and I don’t actually have the energy to do exercise and even eat right sometimes because you’re not really earning that much so you’re buying cheaper food I suppose and budgeting more (Kylie, 30s, childcare worker, Sydney)[After work] I haven’t recharged from the day yet and I don’t actually have the energy to do exercise and even eat right sometimes because you’re not really earning that much so you’re buying cheaper food I suppose and budgeting more (Kylie, 30s, childcare worker, Sydney) Sports participation Sports participation  Time constraints - little control over work or non-work time Because it’s a poor pay rate, you feel you need to work as much as you possibly can so you never want to make appointments, even on your day off, for medical, … breast screening … cervical cancer screening … pap smears, … And also if work rings up and wants you to work and you refuse… you’ll find you’re penalised when the next roster comes out … you’ve got less hours (Vicky, 50s, childcare worker, Adelaide)Because it’s a poor pay rate, you feel you need to work as much as you possibly can so you never want to make appointments, even on your day off, for medical, … breast screening … cervical cancer screening … pap smears, … And also if work rings up and wants you to work and you refuse… you’ll find you’re penalised when the next roster comes out … you’ve got less hours (Vicky, 50s, childcare worker, Adelaide)

11 Help Seeking Community services Community services ‘I’d probably be too proud’ (Charmaine, 40s, cleaner, Adelaide)‘I’d probably be too proud’ (Charmaine, 40s, cleaner, Adelaide) ‘I found it hard to actually ring them up and to get to that point’ (Millie, 30s, cleaner, Adelaide)‘I found it hard to actually ring them up and to get to that point’ (Millie, 30s, cleaner, Adelaide) Welfare as a last resort: Welfare as a last resort: ‘We never claim dole, anything … NEVER any one day claim unemployment’ (Mercedes, cleaner, immigrant, Melbourne)‘We never claim dole, anything … NEVER any one day claim unemployment’ (Mercedes, cleaner, immigrant, Melbourne) ‘I don’t want to be known as one of those dole bludgers’ (Fay, 40s, cleaner, Melbourne)‘I don’t want to be known as one of those dole bludgers’ (Fay, 40s, cleaner, Melbourne)

12 In sum…  Low pay = time and money poverty  Good health and healthy household/community relationships are essential to surviving on a low wage  Yet, low wages erode health, social connection and social fabric  Work that is health promoting is fairly paid = living wage fairly paid = living wage family friendly conditions family friendly conditions ensures workplace rights/citizenship ensures workplace rights/citizenship meets ILO minimum standards meets ILO minimum standards Stay tuned: 2008 Low pay book release


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