Government’s proposed Centrelink changes are a cosmetic attempt to hide that the system will be made even worse

Contributed by Ben Wilson

The situation is about to get worse for job seekers. They already suffer through a Centrelink system that has its robo debt and is organised to punish those who come before it as if they were somehow doing wrong.

Now the minister responsible, Kelly O’Dwyer, has announced the intention to make is even worse, through the biggest overhaul in 20 years.  

Although on paper there is what looks like liberating job seekers from the mandatory 20 applications per month, and allowing on line job searches, the real content is getting rid of jobs at Centrelink and replacing assistance with a digital platform.

The system has already gone some way down this road and the result has been bad for those who depend on Centelink to get by. The robo debt system, where individuals continue to be given debts unjustly, has been a standout example.

eBut it doesn’t stop here. Cutting back on face to face service, long waiting times on telephones, constant failures in the online system, have routinely put applicants and those seeking help on specific issues in a very hard place.

The digitalised system has been a means not only to cut back on staff. It has also been used to privatise services.

Consequently, money which would otherwise go to provide a service through skilled personnel, has been transferred to private providers, with a contractual incentive to punish those they come into contact with and knock them off benefits, rather than provide genuine help. The new changes will make this worse.

The Senate report just released, found that out of work Australians are “suffering” under the existing employment services program. It scathed the Jobactive program, which has brought in private providers to manage the job seekers, referring to it as “harsh and unreasonable.” the report called for an overhaul of the program.

Take away the dressing, the old system remains, and nothing is really going to change for the better.

Any substantial improvement must be incorporate the principles of genuine service to those in needs; remove the built in bias against the unemployed and others seeking assistance; provide sufficient support to sort out lives and make it easier to find work; accept that an income that is adequate to guarantee a reasonable standard of living is a human right that society and therefore government is bound to honour; and the provide sufficient qualified and experienced staff to ensure that all this is adhered to.

Unfortunately, we are a long way from this. This is a battle that still has to be fought and won.

2 Comments on "Government’s proposed Centrelink changes are a cosmetic attempt to hide that the system will be made even worse"

  1. Michael Griffin | March 21, 2019 at 2:32 pm | Reply

    Gov bring in foreign workers on visa that deprive Australians of employment then persecute the Australian for being unemployed. This is sickening and absurd. Its treacherous and a betrayal. LNP ARE JUST CORRUPT CRIMINALS STEALING THE ASSETTS AND RESOURCES OF THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR CLIENT DONORS.

  2. Lorrain Riley | March 21, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Reply

    Australian need to realize that Politicians and Public Servants are literally employed by the Public and should do their jobs – that is to Serve The Public! Governments, whether State or Federal are not only Employees but also Employers and therefore exceptional in that they are employed by their very employees! If the Public are employed directly by Government/s they pay income tax, thus providing income to the Government/s, however, the increasing trend of Government/s to discharge employees and outsource or sell utilities to private corporations simply increases the cost to the Public (the actual employer) as, logically, private companies increase fees in order to make a profit and inevitably pay as little tax to the Government/s and thereby to the Public coffers as managed by their Employees (i.e. Politicians and Public Service (Mis)Management.) Our Democracy virtually no longer exists, instead we have an elitist top tier who ensure that they are well rewarded for their absolute failure in their Duty of Care. Meanwhile much of our Utilities are owned by overseas corporations and so, besides paying very little in tax toward Australian Government covers, they also send profits overseas, not even to be re-invested in Australia. I am afraid that this will not stop until those “comfortable” people realize that they, too, are being cheated or their rights and the fear of being called “racist” should they insist that the sale of Australia – land and jobs – cease – for that claim is nothing more than emotional blackmail to force people to accept the injustice being foisted upon us.

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