Government is still failing to address Centrelink caused harm

Photo by Chris Gillette/ABC

Contributed by Adam Carlton

Not fat from a year ago the Hill report came made 22 recommendations to improve the employment services system. Everyone knows it’s doing nothing to improve the prospects of getting work and delvers inhumane treatment to the unemployed. Wasn’t this why there was an investigation?

It is all well and good having a set of recommendations on paper. Failing to put them into practice makes them useless. This is exactly what we have got. Minimal window dressing in the May budget didn’t change this.

JobSeeker payments remain abysmally below the poverty level. The type of abuse brought about by the Robodebt system is still more or less intact. Victims are still being burdened with unfair debts. The private Job Network providers are still there milking the system and mistreating those they are supposed to help. Automated and often wrong payment suspensions are still occurring place in big numbers.

This pattern of mistreatment is suffered by not only the officially unemployed, but also be those on disability, single parents, First Nations people, and age pensioners.

The situation is so bad that it has prompted the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) to speak out several times on the suspension of payments.

“In the three months to December, 259,000 people were threatened with the loss of income support. Employment services went on to suspend the payments of 193,000 people.

Photo by Mick Tsikas/AAP: VCOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie

“People were often cut off for trivial reasons such as missing appointments they didn’t know about. About one in four (24 percent) identified as First Nations. People with a disability (27 percent) were also disproportionately affected,” said ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie recently.

Cassandra Goldie called for an end to the harm that employment services have inflicted by failing to help 900,000 people find work.

She called for commitment by government to stop automated payment suspensions, to create an independent body to lift standards of service delivery, invest in much more realistic payments and provide genuine work experience, invest much more in vocational training, and establish a national council made up of people using the services to advise the n=minister on reforms.

If these steps were taken, much of what was recommended in the government’s own report would be fulfilled.

The sticker is the ongoing failure to act. This can easily be explained as he failure to break from the ideology of blaming those less fortunate for their plight. This leads to the notion that they should be punished. Mistreatment is then justified.

The most basic driver, however, is the use of the stick to create a cheap labour force to hold down wages overall. This is what the corporate world and the paid for economists and mouthpieces push for, and governments are more concerned with keeping on their good side than anything else. This must go and be replaced by putting basic human rights as that to an acceptable quality of life and equal treatment for all as the priority.

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