'This important and illuminating book provides a powerful and harrowing depiction of the inadequacies of the Australian welfare system. Its findings challenge the foundations and direction of the welfare reform agenda.' - Professor Peter Saunders, University of New South Wales
'This major new study challenges many myths about life on welfare and in low paid work. It should be read by anyone concerned with welfare reform.' - Jane Millar, Professor of Social Policy, University of Bath
What is it really like to be unemployed and on welfare? How do you make ends meet? Does the welfare system actually help people get back into jobs?
Half a Citizen draws on in-depth interviews with 150 welfare recipients to reveal people struggling to get by on a low income, the anxieties of balancing paid work with income support, and how unstable housing makes it difficult to get ahead.
By investigating the lives beyond the statistics, Half a Citizen also explodes powerful myths and assumptions on which welfare policy is based. The majority of welfare recipients interviewed are very active, in paid work, caring for children or for other family members, and they see themselves as contributing and participating citizens, even if they sometimes feel they are being treated as 'half a citizen'. These stories of resilience and passion bear no resemblance to the clichéd images of dependence, laziness, and social isolation which underpin social policy and media debate.