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Study identifies impact of fees on poor

Many people are forced to choose between basic necessities such as health care and education because they did not have enough money for all they needed, according to a report prepared by Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services.

The report said people earning less than $28,000 a year were being unfairly hit by "user-pays" charges.

Many people were delaying buying vital prescription medicines in an effort to juggle household budgets, the research found. The picture was one of deprivation and despair, said Marilyn Webster, one of the report's authors.

"Families told us they were unable to pay for school excursions or buy books for their children," she said.

The research was prompted, Ms Webster said, by reports from Good Shepherd workers concerned at the extent to which emergency aid was being used to pay government fees and charges.

Catholic Health Australia's CEO, Francis Sullivan, described the report as being illustrative of a "world devoid of values" and a consequence of the "brave new world of user-pays" that "simply sets a price for all-comers".

Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services

The Age

26 Jun 2002