'The loss of dignity - and friends': Elderly woman reveals her tragic story of life on the dole - amid claims Australia's welfare system is an 'embarrassment for our nation'
Judging by her shape, Ms Bartels eats well so what else is at issue? It appears that being on the dole has "cost her dignity and friends". It has not been good for her social life, in short.
But is the dole supposed to be good for that? Should the taxpayer be financing a good social life for everyone? It would perhaps be desirable but I think there are too many other calls on taxpayer funds to make that a reasonable possibility
Note that she is only a few years away from going on the pension, which is similar to the dole, so she is just undergoing a bit early what would be an inevitable transition
The lady seems to think that the government should provide some avenue for getting her a job but that is absurd. The number of employers who would take on an overweight elderly woman is vanishingly small. We may deplore that but it is reality. It is hard to see what any government could do about it
An elderly woman has told the Q&A panel about how living on Newstart has been the 'worst time of her life' - costing her dignity and friends.
Ricci Bartels became emotional on Monday night's program as she revealed she was forced on to unemployment benefits three years ago after being made redundant.
'I have paid taxes for 46 years… I've worked 20 years in the private sector and 26 years in the public sector for a not-for-profit community service,' Mrs Bartels said.
'I was forced on to Newstart at the age of 62 through change of management and subsequent retrenchment. I've experienced Newstart for three years, JobActive left me to my own devices. I could not find a job no matter how hard I tried.'
Mrs Bartels said the experience of being on welfare after so many years of dedicated work had been the 'worst of her life'.
The Newstart allowance of $555.70 a fortnight hasn't risen in real terms, adjusted for inflation, since 1994.
It is also more than two-and-a-half times less than the minimum, full-time wage.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ruled out calls for an increase, despite calls from former PM John Howard and ex-Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.
'To put it in a nutshell it (being on Newstart) is the worst time of my life, the loss of dignity, the loss of friends because you can't go out, you can't socialise, not eating proper foods even though I suffer various ailments, looking for a job applying for a job, not getting the job,' Mrs Bartels said fighting back tears.
Referencing a quote from Mr Morrison, she said: 'So my question to you wonderful panellists is this, what would you or how would you suggest people like me have a go to get a go?'
Mrs Bartels posed the question to the panel before host Tony Jones gave the Liberal member for Mackellar Jason Falinski an opportunity to speak.
'We have done a number of things in the government to try and make sure that our system, which is a $172billion welfare system per-annum, is as bespoke as possible in response to the needs of individuals as much as possible,' the backbencher from Sydney's northern beaches said.
'It may be in your particular case we haven't been as accessible as we need to be but we keep trying.'
Mr Falinski then touted Australia's existing welfare system Australia, evoking audible moans of disagreement from the studio audience.
'Australia has a very successful welfare and tax and transfer system … it's one of the reasons that we have very high income mobility levels and very low levels of income inequality especially compared to other nations,' he said.
Mrs Bartels addressed the question to the panel before host Tony Jones gave Liberal MP for Mackellar Jason Falinski (pictured) a chance to answer but he left Mrs Bartels disappointed
Mrs Bartels continued her line of questioning to Mr Falinski and quickly called him out for dodging the crux of her question.
'Jason, with respect, you haven't answered my question, what do you suggest people like me, at my age or at a young age for that matter, how do they have a go to get a go, this is so important, have a go to get a go, it is so divisive,' Mrs Bartels said.
Mr Falinski doubled down on his comments that without knowing all of Mrs Bartels's circumstances he couldn't tell her what path she needed to take.
'If the system has failed you personally, in your particular circumstances, I can only apologise for that, I'd love to know more and create a system to make sure what happens to you doesn't happen to others,' he said.