Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Budget fears

Many thousands of Australians are waiting with a stomach churning sense of dread to hear how the first coalition budget is going to affect them. Few I know express hope of any improvement in their lifestyle.

Mums, dads, brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas, the neighbours in our community. It seems all will be hit in some way.

Promises of a million jobs have given way to grave losses in the car industry and wages and hours are under threat in other areas. Now there’s the expectation of many thousands of redundancies in the public service.

Even if we’re not directly in the firing line, many of us will know someone who’ll be negatively affected. A struggling neighbourhood family trying to make mortgage payments, single parents trying to blend in, trying not to appear "poor"- that word can be a hurtful insult in a hyper-consumption obsessed economy. Scrimping here and there simply to stretch the pay packet one week to the next. Trying to “keep it quiet from the kids.”

We know intuitively that job losses will have a flow on effect to our wider society. Fewer people earning and spending means fewer people shopping. Fewer shoppers leads to stores not needing as many employees so there are less shifts available. In turn this means that those employees with less shifts have less money to spend. 

Children often know that their parents are stressed although they may not understand the issues, and in response, many act up in school. It can be a good idea to share some information with staff so that they can understand why a child may be behaving differently. The less obvious consequences are far reaching, but no less damaging. It can become a vicious, downward spinning cycle with people far beyond the immediate issue involved in dealing with the fallout.

Health care professionals, including doctors and allied health workers have been inundated for months with concerned patients who are experiencing physical symptoms of stress with the threatened changes. People who were barely managing to make ends meet, trying to keep up appearances, but hiding real fear about how they’ll cope.

Not surprisingly this impacts on those health care workers, their patients are real people and many genuinely care for them.  They know however, that if purse strings are tightened, medical and allied health visits may become a dispensable ‘luxury’. 
Many people are saying they feel like they're on a slippery slope
with no end in sight. Photo from East Side Gallery Berlin 2009.
A diet of doom and gloom, negativity and fear is, to put it mildly unhealthy, although it seems that it may be hard for many people to avoid, for a while at least.

I wish I had a ‘one size fits all’ solution. But I know from working with a diverse range of clients for many years, that slick, glib answers, and easy cure-alls are rarely effective in the long run. I also know that pretending nothing is wrong can have disastrous consequences.

So, simplistic as this sounds, if you’re suffering because of the budget (or for other reasons too of course) seek help. Share. Communicate your distress in some way.  Whether face to face, text, email, a phone call to a friend or service such as lifeline. If you’re creative, paint it out, draw it, scribble your pain and anger onto a piece of paper. Do some vigorous weeding – if you don’t have a garden offer to weed someone else's (they’ll be grateful!) Scream into the pillow, cry under the shower. 

Most importantly, Write to your local member of parliament – let them know (as politely as possible) how you’re affected. They’re there to represent you and they need to know. Now isn’t the time to be silent! 

Above all, seek professional help if that’s right for you. 

 Hang in there. You’re not alone! And while that’s cold comfort, it can be good to remember.

Lifeline: 13 11 14  http://www.lifeline.org.au
Beyond Blue:   1300 22 46 36 http://www.beyondblue.org.au/

Information on other support services is here: http://www.livingisforeveryone.com.au/I-Need-Help.html


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