Is Alex a ‘dole bludger’ or caring, stay-at-home mum?

Hold your outrage, people.

Alex Girle takes home almost $50,000 a year without even having a job. But save your judgement.

Melbourne mum Alex Girle doesn’t work, but she does receives $1,871 a fortnight in welfare payments.

The 38-year-old Melbourne woman claims the Single Parenting Payment, the carers allowance, and family tax benefits from Centrelink — and says she earns more on welfare than she’s likely to earn from a job.

“(W)hy would I work for anything less?,” she told A Current Affair in a segment broadcast last night that provoked anger among some viewers.

welfare payments for single mums
Melbourne mum Alex Girle, who receives $1,871 a fortnight in welfare payments. (Screenshot: A Current Affair)

Some viewers slammed the mother-of-five as “lazy” and questioned whether anyone in possession of a flat-screen TV and clean, comfortable accommodation really needs that type of sum from Centrelink.

 

Other commenters wrote online: “The entitled mentality is what’s wrong with the government handouts,” and “Thank god for this Liberal Government getting tough on people like this – unbelievable.”

Meanwhile, the Herald Sun reports Ms Girle has received hundreds of hate messages since the program aired, and 2GB broadcaster Chris Smith chimed in that he was uncomfortable with the government “rewarding someone like her too much if they don’t have a job.”

welfare payments for single mums
Alex Girle has five children, one of who has cerebral palsy. (Screenshot via A Current Affair)

But before you get all indignant and begin typing out a tirade about so-called “dole bludgers,” take a minute to hear her story.

Alex Girle has five children. One of them has cerebral palsy, a permanent life-long condition that in his case requires a carer.

She was previously homeless, but now lives with four of her kids in a small public housing unit in Melbourne. And while her fortnightly $1,871 a fortnight sounds reasonable to some, in reality it’s significantly less than the average full-time Australian wage (which the Bureau of Statistics reports is $76,950 annually before tax).

Sometimes, in fact, that amount is not enough to feed herself and her the four of her children who still live at home.

Also read: The reality of a life for a single, homeless mother.

 

“I’ll go nights where I don’t eat,” she told A Current Affair, explaining that by the time she pays rent, school fees and loans, she’s left with about $500 to cover gas, electricity, food, petrol and internet for her kids’ homework.

“You’re always giving and taking, there’s never there’s never anything left at the end of the week,” she said. “I’m lucky if there’s a dollar.”

welfare payments for single mums
Alex Girle lives with four kids in a modest Melbourne public housing unit. (Screenshot via A Current Affair)

 

If she did get a job, she’d lose her single parents’ payment and — due to her lack of training, as she’s been a full-time carer for so long– she’d be on the new minimum wage coming into effect tomorrow.

Not to mention it would need to be a job that was flexible enough to allow her to care for her children around work duties, or factor in the cost of childcare.

Once that’s factored in? The prospect of earning less in wages than her current welfare payments, even if she did successful secure employment.

“I would love a job, and I challenge anyone in Australia to give me a job that pays more than I get now,” she insists.

Not only that, but she believes it’s harder to get a job because she needs to remain available to her special needs teenager.

“In a (job) interview you can basically see the attitude change straight away,” she said of revealing to a prospective employer that she cares for a special needs child.

“I have to tell them that I have a special needs child that will require me to be home sometimes.”

 

welfare payments for single mums
“I would love a job, and I challenge anyone in Australia to give me a job that pays more than I get now.” (Screenshot via A Current Affair)

 

Ms Girle says she would “love to” get a job, and has aspirations of starting a printing company — but is struggling to raise the start-up capital.

Meanwhile, she’s endured a torrent of abuse after her A Current Affair episode aired.

“People have honestly no idea what all these negative comments can do to a person,” she told the Herald Sun.

“I was an emotional wreck crying my eyes out like a baby and contemplating some really deep thoughts…(I) have not felt this low since my daughter passed away.”

Watch the segment here (post continues after video):

So look past the sensationalist headlines. Look past the Twitter outrage.

Our welfare system exists for a reason: to cushion unfortunate, struggling people like Ms Girle whose circumstances, for one reason or another, don’t allow them to find ways to earn independent incomes.

Budget 2015: Welfare has been cut by $1.6 billion.

For those of us whose lives don’t resemble Alex Girle’s, we never may understand why her life looks the way it does. But she’s convinced that, if you or I lived in her position for just a short time, we’d never again dismiss her as lazy.

“If they had to live in my shoes for a week…They’d soon work it out,” she said of her critics. “They’d see that yeah, you might get this sort of money, but when you’ve got four, five kids… it actually is quite hard.”

What did you think of the segment? Do you also rely on welfare?

If you have a story to share, email [email protected]

Related content:

Report: Child welfare payments should be dependent on vaccinations.

Welfare changes are forcing some single mothers into prostitution.

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