Opinion: Tabloid Media, The Commentators And The Dole Bludger Smear

For some reason my television was on Channel Nine at 7.00pm tonight, don’t blame me I wasn’t in control of the remote. I peered my head from my laptop to see Tracy Grimshaw introduce a report about ‘dole bludgers,’ not being a regular A Current Affair viewer, but knowing the gist of these reports, I readied myself for my usual outburst of frustration and anger.

Yet another tabloid beat up about these jobless scum who are using OUR TAX DOLLARS to live it up on the embarrassingly low newstart allowance. I was not let down, it was exactly what I had feared.

Exhibit A: AM radio shock jock Neil Mitchell demanding these bludgers not “sleep in” and go to job interviews

Exhibit B: Rent an opinion News Corp. writer Susie O’Brien screaming about the laziness of these people (if only they could get a job whining on the television about others)

and Exhibit C: Selected vox pops from random people outside a Centrelink office.


The unemployed – all lumped in together (photo: pbs.org)

The main bone of this story is that some newstart recipients were not attending scheduled job interviews. Fair enough, they should right? Ok let’s all agree and move on. However what this was, was yet another tabloid piece bashing those who find themselves without a job.

Ignoring rising unemployment, a much higher youth unemployment rate, a budget that is scaring the shit out of everyone and an uncertain economy, the idea that we should be lambasting those without a job is offensive.

These reports only strengthen the narrative that those without a job aren’t trying. They are lazy, they don’t want to work, and most bizarrely they ‘enjoy the lifestyle’. I don’t know how you can enjoy living below the poverty line and not even be able to pay your own rent, let alone buy anything else on the newstart allowance.

I know people, who have earned a degree and cannot find work, they even apply for jobs that don’t require a degree, are outside of their discipline and still cannot find work. Are they lazy? Do they not try? Despite countless applications and interviews, are they still dole bludgers?

No, but these reports and any articles based on this nonsense lumps them in with the tiny fraction of people who don’t care, or don’t bother. This shames all those people who are serious about looking for work, and face the embarrassment of being jobless, as well as the potential economic pain that comes with it. On top of that, they get told they are part of a group of people who are lazy and beneath the rest of society.

That isn’t fair, and the people who are responsible for these stories know it, and they are either too ignorant to realise it, or worse, they don’t care.

Published by

Mike Beckham

Mike Beckham resides near Melbourne, Australia.