The so-called ‘welfare reforms’ made by the federal government have caused stress and hardship for some sole parents and people with disabilities, but there are many other people who also have to deal with the way ‘mutual’ obligation is enacted through our welfare system. Following is an example I recently received from a constituent:
My son left school last year and immediately got 2 part time jobs which reduced his youth allowance to around $16 per fortnight.
When he first met with Centrelink they told him that he was 1 and 1/2 hours short per fortnight of the requisite time when they would release him from obligations. Then he went through the process of registering with a job network provider ( Mission Australia) .
He was required to attend a meeting at Mission Australia. He rang them and told them that he couldn’t come because he was working so they said that if he didn’t turn up he’d be breached. So he arranged to have half a day off from his employment to go to this meeting.
A couple of weeks later he advised Centrelink and Mission Australia in writing that he now had full time employment. Centrelink insisted that he had to turn up at their office in person. So he arranged another half day off to meet their appointment.
They continued to send him weekly reporting letters saying that he was receiving Zero dollars and if he didn’t return the form they would cut off his benefits. He advised Centrellink and Mission Austalia twice in writing (on the forms they sent out) that he has full time employment.
Last week he got a letter saying that he had to attend an appointment with Centrelink due to his failure to report. He rang them and said that he was in full time employment, that he had already notified them of this fact and that he was not receiving any benefits.
They insisted he attend so he took another half day off work on Wednesday to go to the office. When he got there they told him to wait and after two hours he asked when he was going to see somebody . They then said that the appointment had been cancelled. Today he got a letter saying that they were cutting off his benefits ($0) because of failure to report.
Is that dumb or what? With a less understanding employer my son might well be out of work now because of incompetent bureacracy.