CRACKS IN SYSTEM
SKYE Faithfull, facing a huge financial burden from cancer treatment, cannot access sickness benefits.
After surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy she was about to resume work when doctors discovered her gene mutation and recommended a mastectomy.
This, the reconstruction and associated recovery times mean she cannot work until early next year.
After insurance rebates, she has still had to find $1800 for radiotherapy and $500 for physiotherapy on her arm, affected by lymph node removal.
Her savings are exhausted. She and her partner now live on his $917 a week salary and rent swallows $500 of that.
Ms Faithfull is trying to save for more physiotherapy and for the $4100 gap on her breast reconstruction.
Her application for sickness payments was denied because the couple's income is $11 over the cut-off mark.
“I was told that unfortunately I'm ‘just one of those people who slip through the cracks’,” Ms Faithfull said.
“How are we supposed to pay to live and then save up for the surgery?
“I'm not for rorting the system and I never would be, I am happy to pay my taxes… but this puts pressure on people to go back to work sooner than they should.”
A Department of Human Services spokeswoman said all welfare applications went through a thorough and fair eligibility assessment and staff had no discretion in granting payment outside the legal criteria.
“We are sorry to hear about Ms Faithfull's health concerns and acknowledge this must be a very difficult time for her and her partner,” she said.
“One of our senior social workers is working with Ms Faithfull and her partner to provide support and connect them to further assistance available locally.”