January 15, 2014

A Spinster's Guide to Dole Bludging Purgatory [Guest Post from Monica]



Hard Facts

I’m a single woman living in share accommodation and I’ve been unemployed for three years now, haven’t done any paid work since 2010, but shush! don’t tell anybody. 

I Had a Dream

Years ago, many years ago, I decided to go to university in order to become a professional, work in a meaningful job, and earn good money so that I could take care of myself when I got older. Wasn’t that an irresponsible thing for me to do?  Apparently, I’m unemployed cause I’ve made *bad* choices in my life, or I’m *too lazy*, or that lovely talk back radio word a *Job-snob*. I took to academia like flies to sh*t. I loved it and made friends with the academics.  

I graduated with a Master degree no less. Oh yes clever girl! And I was a key scholar to boot!  I know, what a horrible consci swat. I studied full time for as long as I could and then went part time. I mean, if you wanna do something meaningful with your life, oh I don’t know like become a registered mental health worker, then you have to do the hard yakka; six years full time or twelve years part time.  

Unless you live at home with mum and dad, the six year route is pretty much out of the ball park. You even work for no money, imagine that. They call it an internship, to make it sound all professional and stuff, and then they have the gall, to ask you pay for it at uni.  You often sit around at ‘internships’ doing stuff all, at other times you’re at risk of death by journal article. All the while dreaming that your new found professional career is just around the corner as soon as you get the pesky thesis out of the way, and not one of them, but two; quelle horreur!

Tip Towing Through the Tulips

I managed to get some casual work here and there doing cleaning jobs, until I thought I needed experience in my new found career area. I manage to acquire just enough casual contract work (thank you Howard government) rolling over to keep my hopes alive, and my interest peaked!  Governments came and went - but I plugged on, motivated in a large part by the memories of being stuck in a toil box for years, being underpaid and doing mind numbingly boring work with very bad conditions. 

In between lectures and tutorials and all that reading and writing I kept a nice exercise routine going - walking and swimming, and then eventually cycling. I was a very happy individual, and the envy of my friends. I seemed to have created the perfect life, or had I peaked too early perhaps?

Medical Alert

Early menopause is an ugly word. How early you say? Well late thirties actually.  And yes, you do the math about how long I was in academia for. After that, came bone-crushing aches and pains in my lower back, which eventually raced up my spine to my neck. Not good if you plan on sitting in front of a computer; or sitting at all really. 

Everything was stiff and my head felt too big for my body, like a bowling ball. And my neck seemed incapable of holding it up. This made me feel very unsteady on my feet.

I plugged on though. I had all the necessary tests, but my GP could not account for the dizziness. It was a complaint, I was told, that a lot of middle aged women had. It’s not vertigo I protested, it’s related to my neck, because it always seems to happen after extended period of sitting, either in front of my computer screen, or reading, even with breaks and stretching in between.

Earlier I had also developed a strange eye disorder where my body thinks my eye is a foreign object and tries to kill it!  This causes immense pain and repeated visits to the eye hospital with dilating drops and steroid drops every hour, and more trips to the hospital. The pain is unbearable but when you’re a post graduate student, well you’ve got no time for that sort of dilly dallying around, you’ve got a thesis to finish damn it! 

Iritis, feels as if someone has squirted shampoo directly into your eye for hours on end, and that my friends doesn’t correlate well with statistics, data base management, or computer screens. Oh! I do sound like I’ve acquired some fancy academic skills. Finish that damned thesis I did! And now I am a newly minted mental health worker. Who wouldn’t want to hire me?

Somebody Throw Me Some Crumbs

Online application after online application, went out week after week. I kept in contact with all my networks, but to no avail. I managed to pick up some tutoring work at uni, only by hurling myself at an academic in the cafeteria whilst on a *high* from handing in my thesis. She was someone whom I hadn’t seen since undergraduate days, but you gotta be confident and pushy to get ahead dontcha! 

I worked for one semester, for a burnt out academic and narcissistic co-tutor - who stole all my lesson plans, and then palmed them off as her own. I went the extra mile, was a creative tutor, fun even, the kids seemed to like me, the co-ordinator liked me. But no more extra work. Bugger that!

Of course sitting around reading journal articles, marking essays and reading assignments isn’t good for ones back, especially when you have arthritis! 

As if I hadn’t been thrown enough medical curve balls with early menopause and Iritis; I now have an old! persons problem. Perhaps that’s it, I’m too old! 

Aren’t women in their fifties throwing off their shackles and enjoying their new found chutzpah!  My GP tells me that I have a lot of it!...arthritis that is, for someone so young. Degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis, plus! 

I also have something else that’s unpronounceable, but means a vertebra has slipped over another vertebra. My GP then left the practice never to return and left me with the daunting task of finding a new GP who understands chronic pain. Someone who doesn’t see me as a neurotic middle aged woman carrying extra weight, nor is medically illiterate, and just needs to go for a good jog around the park to loosen things up. She told me I needed physio. No surprises there! And to contact Arthritis NSW - and  I did toot sweet!

Know thy Enemy

I read all I could about my condition. I even participated in some voluntary online research, and discovered that chronic pain is not well understood by GP’s, even though every third patient the GP sees complains of it. I think I knew more than they did and don’t they love that. 

Arthritis is also not well understood and yet it is the second most common disability in Australia. People associate it with old age, but according to Arthritis Australia, 60% of Australians with arthritis are aged between 15 and 64. One in three will have to leave work early or reduce their hours to cope with it.

By this time I had already applied for Newstart (what a joke!) benefits and was promptly given a case manager from my Job Service Provider (JSP). She was a young thing who was very efficient, but just between you and I, didn’t want to stay in the job for too long, and we spent most of my fortnightly interviews with me giving her career advice, how to enrol at my university, and how to become a teacher.

JSP’s don’t actually help you to find a job, but do continually ask about what barriers you have to finding employment, and you have to go through the bowel emptying motions - every two weeks - of providing evidence to your case manager of looking for work.

I once spent two excruciating hours sitting in a ‘job club’ ( I don’t recall signing the club's membership forms), looking through local newspapers, waiting for a vacant computer to work on, and listening to someone talk about their upcoming overseas holiday. A young man from Africa arrived, and was protesting to his case manager about having to sit there, and peruse the newspapers for work, he flatly refused and was soon set upon by his job coach - who was yelling and screaming at him - much to my horror but to everyone else’s indifference, what a hoot!

Learning to Eat Irony

It wasn’t long before my JSP job coach and case manager was doing what she had always wanted to, go to uni, on her way to becoming a teacher. And she left her job, bidding me a farewell, thanking me for the help and hoping that she might see me as her tutor, at uni sometime.  Not bloody! Likely! Funny that. It’s ironic isn’t it, just like Alanise Morrisett said it was. 

So I had a new case manager. This particularly vacuous individual suggested I join the army reserve! cause it’s tax free money and Centrelink leave you alone. I declined, saying I was over fifty, and carrying arthritis, and I would have failed the medical alone.

Yet another case manager was assigned to me. She was little older than the other one, and she had a funky name, but she was no less vacuous. After she discovered I was a mental health worker, our fortnightly interviews turned into therapy sessions for her, and no amount of protesting on my behalf about boundaries helped. When I failed to show for our appointment once, I was promptly punished by being placed into a group for mature women looking to move into the workforce after a period of significant absence, or, who hadn’t worked at all. Oh!  I haven’t been absent!, I’ve been here all along, studying and working hard towards a new career, and one that I was told by the universities careers counsellor - was an excellent career choice for moving into mature age. 

In that group we learned wacky and incredibly helpful techniques, on how to go out on your own and have coffee - module called -“you go girl!” I must have been seriously deficient in that area. We also learned grooming techniques and how to apply make- up (Were they trying to tell me something).  Just what a girl needs!  It was a completely soul destroying experience for an independent female, who is a left wing feminist, who never wears make up and has taught gender studies at university.

Things seem to be getting worse

After protesting about my chronic back and neck pain I was sent to Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services (CRS), who deal with people who have a disability. Funny that! Because according to the government, and the new disability tables introduced by Labor, it seems to indicate that I don’t have a disability.

Commonwealth is an interesting word isn’t it, because it seems to imply there is a ‘common’ ‘wealth’. I wonder where it is? Because  it’s certainly not in my pocket or bank account. I digress though. Good, I thought, I’ll get the support I need; like physio and hydrotherapy.

I was first functionally assessed over the phone, by a Centrelink staff member who deemed me capable of working 15 hrs a week.  I wanted to work, but needed support so that I could. Off to CRS I went, met a perky! woman who let me in on a secret.  Apparently I shouldn’t have been referred to them, why I don’t know, she never explained and then we had a discussion about the current government's nasty policy of shifting people with disability on to Newstart. Thank you Jenny Macklin!

I had a lengthy interview and filled out another employment plan and was introduced to another case manager. I was offered a gym membership.  I declined. I don’t need that, nor was it useful, but I do need funds for a physio and hydrotherapy - money I don’t have. So the months rolled on.

Fortnightly interviews, discussing my barriers to employment continued, and so did yet another case manager. She looked pale and disinterested, pregnant apparently.  I wasn’t, but I did look it. I was forced to learn how to write a resume, I protested but it was of no use. In the end, she made three pages of my resume into two for me, but failed to send it to me in an email as an attachment, as promised.

Not at all deterred by my situation, I quickly set about researching about teaching in a community college. Surely! I could do that. I designed my lesson plans and sent off my proposal. I was met with enthusiasm by the college course co-ordinator and she was keen to get me started ASAP. I didn’t tell her I was on Newstart, nor did I tell her about my arthritis.  

Being buoyed by my new prospective employer, I told CRS about my new employment adventure. No! said my case manager, you have to find work that is at least 15 hrs a week. But this might build up to 15 hrs a week, said I. It was a no go. “What exactly are you doing to support me,” I said.  “I've done everything myself, you won’t give me access to a physio”;  apparently CRS, at least the one I went to did,  think it’s passive therapy and not appropriate for arthritis, even though it’s recommended by every GP and arthritis foundation alive! But you’re keen to give me a gym membership! Are you f**king serious!

I now have a very angry community course co-ordinator who was expecting me to start work in their coming summer sessions. CRS have effectively given me a bad reputation and any future work with this college seems unlikely. Job Service Provider, Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service provider NOT!

My Renaissance

I dragged my tired sore and aching body home and thought of yet another plan. My local Neighbourhood Centre might need some volunteers. Let’s get me out of house and back into society. I did some research on the internet, found a great community art project that would sit nicely with the trendy inner city neighbourhoods in my local Municipal Council. I found most of the essential materials online free, and the Neighbourhood Centre art project officer told me that funds were available to purchase the other cheap items. I was feeling good about myself indeed!

Surely! This would be my renaissance or even turn into an encore career, something that I had been reading about in the media, all those perky middle class, middle aged, baby-boomer silver foxes happily transitioning into new chapters of their lives. But my career hasn’t even got off the ground in the first place, so technically it can’t be an encore.

“I don’t think they’ll like it”… said my case manager….“who won’t like it”!... I said… “my supervisor”…. she spat out…. “I’ll check, but I don’t think your eligible for voluntary work” (WTF!!). By the time I had returned home I received an email advising me that I was not eligible to do the voluntary work, but there was nothing to stop me from doing it on weekends, or of a night. Service was not open at those hours.

Mary Mother of God Make it Stop!

Depression had now sunk in. I had gained around 13 kilos, at some point I stopped showering for a couple of days each week, why bother, you’re not going anywhere and being outside amongst people was beginning to irritate me, on top of chronic pain and dizziness. So I only went when I absolutely had too.

I now have baby fat without the baby and my professional clothes no longer fit. In a panic I bought a bunch of second hand clothes that were way too big for me, unflattering, but they felt good, cause they were baggy. They made me look fatter and daggier than I actually was, but they were incredibly comfortable and when you’re carrying around a lot of pain and stiffness every day, trust me, comfort over style becomes the priority.

I frightened myself one day when I noticed I was beginning to smell from not bathing. I promptly got myself a psychologist to help me. Fancy that! - a mental health worker needs another mental health worker - to deal with Centrelink and JSP’s. But I’m grateful I could get this bulk billed and not have to pay for it.

Twelve months on from being with CRS and I had been given absolutely nothing in the way of support. They kept telling me they were putting together a case for Centrelink. How long does it take for gods sake! I had a hissy fit and was given a mesh back support.  

My young, ineffective, and naive case manager made belligerent comments when handing over, what was essentially something that probably costs between; $40-$60.  Fed up!, I took out the last of my savings and paid for my own physiotherapist. 

A stretching and strengthening routine was something that I had always done every day, from seeing a physiotherapist years before. I was keen and motivated and quickly implemented his prescription exercises hoping for some miracle.  Each time you fail to attend your fortnightly useless meetings with your case manager, you need a medical certificate. Trying to get a medical certificate - from your long term doctor, who doesn’t work every day - and is so popular you have to book in weeks in advance, isn’t possible.

I can’t predict when I’m going to be sick, and some days my pain is better than others. Other doctors in the practice who haven’t seen you in the last three months, won’t issue you with a medical certificate, and so you have to book in with them and wait. 

All of the GPs I spoke to, including my physio did not understand the rules and laws of Centrelink and Job Service Providers. The more assertive you are with them, the more they appear to think you’re trying to rip off the government. 

Who in their right mind, would spend over a decade at university overcoming numerous obstacles, and then decide that disability is a preferred option, to reasonable and meaningful work.

I found a free pain management clinic - but the reality is that it only served to make me suck eggs. I tried Tai Chi, but couldn’t hold my arms above my body long enough to do ‘Wax on Wax off’, or, was it ‘Clouds in the Air’? I don’t know something like that.

Look out! I’m Breaching!

Isn’t that something related to birthing and an activity that whales do? Apparently not!  I don’t know why the JSP’s talk about activity tests and employment pathways plans. The system that comprises Centrelink and its associated Job Network Providers runs essentially like the probation and parole service. Criminals are heavily supervised, must meet weekly or fortnightly with their officers, and can easily breach their probation and parole orders if they do not comply with their conditions. 

That is exactly how the unemployed are treated. Except the unemployed haven’t committed any crime, but nonetheless we are given a harsh sentence. Perhaps being long term unemployed, or, a recidivist like me, is against the law. I must have missed that part of the Social Security or Criminal Law in my - over a decades’ worth of tertiary education. How facetious of me!

I complained to my case manager about how much pain I was in. “Couldn’t we do these interviews over the phone when I am in so much pain,” I protested. “No you can’t!” - was the retort back. It was churlish! of me to even think that is was a possibility. I, apparently, and my ilk, cost Centrelink a lot of money. But the reality is that I have been trained to work within a government department and if they did give me a job they would be paying me a (sh*t!) load more money than they pay me now. But I should be grateful for small mercies. 

I rang the Department of Employment, Education and Work Place Relations (DEEWR) - why do they have such long names? - to complain and spoke to an understanding woman, but she had no advice for me to go forward. Another friend suggested I retire early, on what?!! Well on $35.00  a day of course.

Tough T*ties! and Misplaced Gumption!

Fed up, frustrated and beaten, I refused to show up for my interview and the next one after that. So that means I’m breaching my mutual obligations, which is funny, cause I don’t remember agreeing to the mutual bit. You get endless text messages and bits of paper in the mail informing you of your oooooutraaaaageous! behaviour and what you immediately need to do. If you don’t contact them within the required amount of time everything stops. No more health care card, no more transport card, no more money. Everything comes to a screaming halt. 

Before that though, I rang CRS to explain that I wanted out and was moving to a new JSP, someone closer to home. This was back in June 2013. I had a final interview with my case worker who brought along her manager, for moral support I think, or maybe she just wanted to hide behind her. 

I was at all times cordial with the service, but assertive women are always seen in a bad light. She took the words right out of my mouth when she said, “this is nothing personal."  I agreed. I simply felt the service wasn’t meeting my needs. The manager was wincing and holding her chest. I thought she must have had indigestion but she gesticulated towards her breasts and said Off! I quickly scoured my memory to see if I had remembered to shower that day and she wasn’t talking about some offensive odour about my person. Not to make light of women who have had double mastectomies though. She was a plucky and feisty woman sans breasts.

Extracting oneself from one JSP to another is no quick business. They don’t let you go lightly and regale you with horror stories about future punishments and inevitable disappointments. I persevered though. 

But before I could sign my release forms and experience that sweet!, sweet! taste of freedom, we had to go over those pesky barriers to my unemployment. I mentioned my arthritis, my age, government policies that have reduced funding to my professional area of expertise and other important barriers. Manager sans breasts, barked at me, “I’ve got arthritis, everyone over a certain age has arthritis.”  “No, but see,” I protested, “Mine started quite early and well I have a lot of it according to my GP, and I require physio and hydrotherapy to help me. It’s progressive, it won’t get any better, it’s only going to get worse." She kept interrupting, I could swear I saw her roll her eyes, but then that might have been the pain she was in. “How much exercise do you do,” she barked. 

By this stage I was reduced to a simpering, mumbling female. I said, "Not much at the moment, but of course I’d forgotten about my prescription exercises from my physiotherapist, and my brisk five minute walks I do in stages. I do them pretty much without fail." 

“Well there you go”, she interrupted. “Look let’s face it, your gumption is misplaced." (I didn’t know I’d lost it) "And, you're fat." 

“You need to get out and do a bit of exercise and loose a bit of weight.  It’ll work wonders for you” … and on and on she went.  Maybe, I thought, I should have my t*ts lobbed off like she did, after all, they had become rather engorged with those fatty deposits, being as I was so fat and all from sitting around twiddling my thumbs all day long. All that nasty back fat's unsightly too! and I could save on bra’s to boot!

Limbo is Not a Game

I am not considered disabled enough by the government for the disability pension, thanks to the previous Labor government’s policy, and Jenny Macklin’s new ‘you beaut’ improved disability tables. I don’t want disability for the rest of my life. 

What I do need and want is enough money to be able to support myself and my disability until I get gainfully employed. And I want this for any Australian who has to rely totally on Newstart and Job Network Providers to survive. And yet, without the necessary financial supports, working again seems to becoming a distant memory for me. That left me with living on what meagre savings I had, spending my days with my early morning exercise routine, taking care of my gorgeous rescue cat, tidying this tip of a flat, and the occasional outing with a friend. 

When life throws you lemons - make Lemonade! Or, so they say. I however, don’t seem to have the right recipe or the right lemons, cause I just wind up with sour juice.



Special thanks, to Monica for writing this piece, and allowing it to be published on 50 Shades of Unemployment.

I encourage all readers of 50 shades of UE, to share their experiences of unemployment, job searching, interviews, and anything else that fits in with this blog. Please email me at:  
50shadesofunemployment@gmail.com




Also by Monica

The Seven Signs of Ageing, and Exemptions from Mutual Obligations



Image: flickr

23 comments:

  1. Our welfare policies seemed to have been adopted from the UK and look what happened over there, 8,000 people deemed unfit for disability died after their assessment. Is death the only criteria by which the government deems you unsuitable for work. Seems like it.

    Plus, Iooking at Volunteer positions available, if there is work to be done whether it's work for the dole, or voluntary, then if your unemployed you should be paid for doing that work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We agree. A person should be paid for any work done, otherwise it's slavery or, as it was in a Soviet Gulag, it's working for a bowl of a thin soup.
      Wronged by Centrelink and Australia

      Delete
  2. Wow, Monica. Thanks for your wonderful piece. The whole JSP/Mutual Obligation/Centrelink circus is more like a Monty Python script than a genuine attempt to help people find work. What can I say? Onward and upward? Never give up, never surrender? Fall seven times and stand up eight? Or maybe just, " Good luck and thanks for all the fish."
    Excellent piece.
    Cheers, Claire.

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  3. Claire thank you for reading and your kind words. Enjoy the fish, they have a particularly pungent odour this time of the year.

    All the best
    Monica

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  4. I've read this piece a few times now, and each time the way JSPs etc have treated you disgusts me and makes me so angry. All power to you Monica for writing down your story, enabling others to read it, and learn how the other half live.

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  5. Thanks so much to everyone who reads my post. I truly appreciate it people taking the time to read through it an understand the difficulties of our harsh welfare system. My experience with the welfare system is by no means unique. There are literally hundreds of us trying to navigate a complex, punishing system, that seems to provide little in the way of support and plenty in the way of punishment.

    Monica

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  6. Thank you Monica,

    So many laughs to be read in one article.

    I have been unemployed for a year... in that year I have done three courses, and started a 4th ..

    The first one was an employment introduction course... all sorts of nifty things on how to get a job, dress, interview.. great stuff.
    For the next year.. My JSP would love to sign me up for exactly the same courses... and complain when I wouldn't show up. Pointing out that I had done a course already, costing the government $900 for my attendance, should cover me for at least a year, did not lighten their moods.

    Doing two courses in my desired field... also does not help when they say.. take anything..we don't care.

    And then the third exciting thing they do now is work for the dole... I think its fine, and have been happily attending my placement for the last three weeks. Now I have changed JSP and they have given me ANOTHER 6 months of compulsory attendance in this program AND upped how many hours I need to be there.

    If the only thing I had was to work at this place, its well and good. but I also need to search for work AND finish my diploma course... which funnily enough.. is not considered good enough as its a complete it online type course. Wonder if employers will feel the same regarding the diploma when its done?

    So Monica, Your a trooper! I feel the pain and as if I have done some great wrong thing, every time I have to for the Centrelink or my JSP.

    rock on.

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  7. Thank you for reading my article and leaving a comment. I'm so glad I could give you a few laughs. I do hope also that you can identify with some of my experiences and that this helps you to feel perhaps not so isolated.

    All the best Monica.

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  8. I also have chronic pain, and one of the hardest things to get others to understand is the lack of control that I have over my life. I don't know when the pain is going to be better, or worse, and it makes it very difficult to plan ahead. I also suffer regular migraines (at least weekly), which incapacitates me for two days (at least) every time. How can anybody be expected to work 15 hours every week with unpredictable, chronic pain? And, more importantly, who is going to employ me?

    ReplyDelete
  9. MWS I hear you loud and clear. You shouldn't be expected to work at all if you can't, and yes I totally agree with you that finding an employer who understands your situation or is willing to employ you would impossible. I wish I had some positive news for you regarding our governments welfare policies. I do sense a lot of people are out there advocating for better understanding and change and hopefully we can at least get some flexibility into the system.

    I really do appreciate you stopping by and reading my post and leaving a comment, but more importantly I hope that you got some benefit out it and that it helps you to feel a little more understood.

    xx all the best
    Monica

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  10. Hi Monica,

    loved your article, and would like to blog about this stuff too. I appreciated the bit about assertive women, there are a few of us in those places - can't help ourselves because the system is so totalitarian. I've recently won a huge battle with my current JSP - after going to legal aid when they blatantly faked a Centrelink assessment to try and force me to do a plethora of "training" courses - probably similar to "You Go Girl". My idea of absolute screaming torture.

    Yes, probation and parole officers, my crime is to be over 55 and unable to find work. I like it when clients start yelling in the middle of the JSP because it keeps it out there, what's really happening to us. When it was my turn, fellow jobseekers at the computers were mouthing encouragement, giving me the thumbs up.

    I was fined $50 a year ago at my former JSP for "inappropriate behaviour" - simply telling them they were a mandatory detention centre for the mature-aged. I appealed and three months later got a refund and an apology from Centrelink.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. Please keep in touch with us here. I think we should form a strong advocacy group. I know the single parents put onto Newstart did. They made a documentary and it was shown at parliament house to large group of senators. Carmen is interested in people writing down their stories, so if you want to contribute please do, we would be very grateful. Thanks Monica

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's almost a year since the last comment now.

    Nothing has changed as far as I can tell. I personally believe that the Job Service Provider network - disabled or not - is a huge scam. Most are in swanky office buildings, have lots of highly paid staff, and they do sweet bugger all about getting anyone a job.

    And how much Government money do they get for every unemployed person on their books? And how much are the owners of these companies taking in salaries? I bet they are not on $50,000 a year.

    It would make a good story for some enterprising journalist to crack open......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will be interesting to observe how things play out with the new JobActive model that's replacing JSA. I believe it won't be starting until July 1 - so when that time comes, I'd be keen to get feedback on how people are finding the new system.

      Delete
    2. I'm a cynical bastard when it comes to Centrelink......

      Delete
  13. I'm also looking for a new JSP at the moment in a North Shore suburb of Sydney. It seems Centrelink has put me into a specific category and assigned me to one of the the worst JSP who handles that category - ESS.

    I can change to another job service provider, but the only problem is none of them that provide the ESS service have any vacancies. So I'm stuck with this bunch of morons (I'm being kind there - I didn't use one curse word).

    I mentioned the name of the JSP to the first place I went to and the councilor remarked and I quote "you need to get away from them as fast as you can. I've heard nothing but bad reports about them. Even if you you don't transfer to us, you need to get away from them".

    When he mentioned that all JSP's were Government funded, I asked him directly that it makes me wonder, with the flashy offices these places are in, how much money the owners of these companies are making? An absolute fortune was his response. Which basically confirmed my suspicions.

    It appears to be a racket like the Charity industry where a Director can be drawing a $100,000 salary (plus other perks) from each of ten different charities and no one bats an eyelid.

    I didn't explain why this JSP I'm assigned to was so bad - but I'll leave that for another time....

    Regards,

    Tony

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for posting your story. It's both frustrating and sad, that so much power (& money) is placed into the hands of a few self-serving and inept JSPs. Maybe I'm naive, but I cannot see why they can't close down such dysfunctional places, and use the spare funds to create some new, actual part-time jobs? I hope your piece encourages others to post in their experiences. Best wishes,

      Delete
  14. Actually Carmen I don't think it's a few self serving and inept JSP's. The *bad apple* analogy is used by governments to deny that the system is designed to be fraudulent. Or, as on the Liberal Politician who was on the Four Corners program described it as *gaming the system*. In other words, he thinks it's perfectly fine for JSP's to push the unemployed through useless training, programs and work for the dole schemes in order to profit. The amount of money these organisations get from government could be better spent on real pathways to employment, by well trained staff who understand the labour market and actually have a clue about how many jobs there are and how many people are competing for them.

    So what other way could be helpful I might hear you say. Good Question.

    I don't want a return to the old CES. It had it's problems as well. But before we can talk about welfare policy we have to understand a few basics first.

    The economic policy stance currently dominant around the world uses unemployment as a policy tool to control inflation; when cost pressures rise, the standard monetary policy carried out by the monetary authority (central/reserve bank) tightens interest rates, creating a buffer stock of unemployed people, which reduces wage demands, and ultimately inflation. When inflationary expectations subside, these people are expected to get their jobs back. This is no longer happening. More people are becoming unemployed and for longer. This policy is no longer doing it's job.

    A job guarantee (JG) is an economic policy proposal aimed at providing a sustainable solution to the dual problems of inflation and unemployment. In a job guarantee program, a buffer stock of employed people (employed in the job guarantee program) usually in the public sectors provides the same protection against inflation without the social costs of unemployment, hence (it is argued) fulfilling the dual mandate of full employment and price stability. Much better to have a stock of working people with new or existing skills to return to the private sector when needed.

    This buffer stock expands when private sector activity declines, and declines when private sector activity expands, much like today's unemployed buffer stocks.

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  15. Hi, there's a facebook page I've joined recently - it's aimed at the mature-age job seeker group - and reading through the continuous conversations about people's problems, and issues regarding inability to get a job, but wanting to get a job (despite ongoing medical conditions), their frustrations with the system, lack of information flow regarding their rights etc, and the government's persistent lack of insight into the whole situation - is really depressing. There's more than 2,000 members on this site and it grows daily. It shows what a huge disconnect there is between our government's administering of the system, and their constituents. It appears that our well paid pollies (on most sides) have no insight of the situation, and moreover, just don't care. Amazing when you think of the perks, privileges and salaries they earn ....all for doing NOTHING.

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  16. Loved the article, lots of laughs.

    I am 54 years old and volunteer at a centrelink certified volunteer organisation. My new JSP has told me that I can no longer volunteer at this organisation but must now “work for the dole” for 15 hours per week. The manager has told me that there is now no difference between volunteering and work for the dole and that if you do volunteer , it must be at an organisation that has been reviewed and approved as a work for the dole organisation. Therefore I must either 1) stop my volunteer work at my current not for profit charitable organisation and go and work for their work for the dole organisation OR 2) let my JSP arrange for my current not for profit organisation to be accessed and approved as one of their work for the dole organisation OR 3) go off centrelink benefit. This goes against what I have been told by department of employment and what the above article contains however the JSP is all powerful and gets to make you do whatever suits them for them to get money to place you in work for the dole. When I asked them about what I should do when I get some casual part time work when working for the dole, they thought this might be a problem with the work for the dole organisation. In the end, I suggested that I could knock back the paid work so that I could continue doing the work for the dole work and they seemed happy with that suggestion. In the two interviews I have had with this new JSP, they have shown no interest in finding me a job or in the organisations that I have applied for jobs at. I have lost the will to stand up to them as they are not interested in me finding paid work and are only interested in me working for the dole. I am living in an episode of Utopia !

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    1. It's so damn ridiculous that if there's a volunteer role that particularly interests you, or your passionate about, or maybe it's close to home - then it makes perfect, logical sense you remain there. I think it's time they renamed JobActive, Faulty Towers Unemployment Industries Inc. Actually, I'm in your situation. Have had the jobactive initial visit. Although they didn't specify anything about workfordole. I have however, of my own choice lined up 2 volly roles that I'm particularly interested in. So I hope I don't have to go through the same stupid situation that you have had to put up with. It makes no sense. Actually, I've turned into such an "angry old woman" that should they insist I go to a volly centre of "only of their choice" I'll be beating a path to my local MP. If you'd ever like to write a guest post for this blog about your experience re jobactive & so forth, please do. Send via the Contacts page. We need to hear more stories like yours. And there are very few platforms through which to air them

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  17. I was laughing so much that I ended up crying. I too have been told I am not disabled enough to receive DSP despite having received it twice in the past and instead of staying on it stopped my payment when I got well enough to work. Now I have many more health issues and I am not well enough to work 8 hours a week as documented by my Dr however I now am not disabled enough for DSP but I do have a disability job provider and a pension card!!! I too want to be able to have the space I need without stress in the hopes of eventually finding employment. I have refused to be a volunteer for NS because if I am well enough to do that which I am not then find me a job where I can earn income rather than continually working for the pittance they call Newstart. Newstart towards poverty!!!

    Oh and I have close on 9 years before I can live in the lap of luxury on the age pension. Something to look forward to!!

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    1. Thank you for reading my article and commenting. I'm glad it could brighten your day by making you laugh so hard you cried. We need all the bright days and joy we can find.

      All the best
      Monica

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