This response is from a woman in her 60s living in regional Western Australia. She has requested that her name be withheld.

They did literally nothing to help me find work… and literally had nothing to do with me finding work.

Survey responses

Provider nameAPM
Do ‘mutual’ obligations activities make your mental or physical health worse?Yes
Have you been able to access programs or services through a job agency or other provider that helped to improve your physical or mental health?No
Have you ever had paid work, study commitments or caring duties at the same time as being required to do ‘mutual’ obligations?Yes, I have had paid work while doing ‘mutual’ obligations
Do you have any paid work?Yes

If you were able to speak directly to the politicians who decide what we need to do to get a Centrelink payment, what would you say to them?

Check your self-righteousness at the door of Parliament. We are not recalcitrant children to be bullied into submission. The social security budget allocation is not a privilege but a right bestowed by an Act of Parliament as is the Parliamentary lifetime payment for retired politicians. What are your mutual obligations to retain that? You have no.more or less right to payments as we, the unfortunate un-or-under-employed. So what if there are people who exploit the system… there are as many politicians who do so and are not held accountable. You are not selected on merit as the rest of the public service is….or performance managed, or truly accountable because you spend so much of our money on media spin and message massaging. While you are pointing the finger at those of us who aren’t working or don’t want to work, there are three other fingers on your hand pointing at you. Bullying and coercion, denigration and arrogance has no place in the dignity of people’s reliance on the social safety net that affords us the human right of agency in our own lives, and the fundamental human needs of food, shelter and clothing so we can love and be.loved, be.listened to and feel safe. I have spent a great deal of my adult life caring for children and raising them to be the next generation of taxpayers; caring for elderly relatives so they are not shovelled into the deplorable aged care system, fostering other people’s children at my own expense, and giving endless hours of my time to schools for the betterment of children who are let down every day by the policies you people dream up! Now, when I need support and have to keep working beyond the age my body is built to sustain, you keep coming up with more ways to foist punitive indignities on people who just weren’t as fortunate as you to parachute into the greatest rort of all… deciding how the rest of us will live. the How dare you.

Do you do any unpaid work?

Yes. Caring for grandchildren and non-compulsory volunteering.

Do you want to say anything about your experience with Centrelink or living on payments?

Shame on them.

What effect do ‘mutual’ obligations have on your wellbeing?

The depersonalisation aspect despicable and left me feeling stripped of dignity.

Has a provider ever caused a problem with your payment?

Respondents may select more than one option

Yes, and my payment was suspended

Do you want to say anything about your experience with your providers?

They did literally nothing to help me find work… and literally had nothing to do with me finding work or giving me information relevant to my age (over 60). For the first time in my life I feared for my mental health trying to keep up with the obligations; applying for jobs I could have done with my eyes closed, but no one was looking for candidates of my age, and qualifications and experience. It was a most demoralising and shaming experience. I’m ropeable that they were paid money to “manage” my case … no accountability.

Employment services survey

The Punishment for Profit report is based on hundreds of responses to surveys conducted by the Antipoverty Centre. This research is ongoing. If you are in Workforce Australia, Disability Employment Services or a similar program, we welcome any information you are able to share about your experiences.

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