This response is from a man in his 30s living in regional Victoria. He has requested that his name be withheld.

You would think after 5 years… I’d have the skills to do the same job for money in the same place.

Survey responses

Which payment do you get from Centrelink?JobSeeker Payment
Do you ever worry about losing your payment?Yes
Provider namesAPM
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?No

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?

Increase the rate and abolish the MOs. By giving us enough to survive comfortably we will go into shops and services putting the money back into the economy but mostly our local community. I have now done Mutal Obligations in hundreds if not thousands of job applications and have had just as many rejection letters. It wastes the time of businesses and me. It honestly makes me feel worthless.

Do you do any unpaid work?

I volunteer at my local Lifeline in the warehouse on trucks.

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

the 12 weeks of paid work i had were the worst when it came to centrelink and reporting. You get cut off after 3 months of non payment so i had to call them to confirm i was not getting cut off at the same time the employment ended. Job provider also stuffed up by telling centrelink it was permanent full time and not a 3 month contract so got payment was cancelled half way through. Reporting was also confusing based on when you get paid and when you report not lining up.

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

I suffer from anxiety and basically have panic attacks before entering the provider for an appointment. Constantly fearing what bullshit they’ll push me into next.

Has a provider ever caused a problem with your payment?

Respondents may select more than one option

  • Yes, and my payment was suspended
  • Yes, but I was able to fix the problem before my payment was affected

What is the worst activity you have had to do?

Local Men’s Shed. Built furniture to be sold among other community projects. Instructors couldn’t be bothered teaching us how to use the tools. We would sit around in the lunch room until 10am sometimes because the shed was too cold. They would send us off for lunch early so they could do their jobs without babysitting us which would result in our lunch finishing just as theirs started. so we sat around waiting to do something and then was often sent home early. Massive waste of time. I learnt nothing.

Placement experience – Work for the Dole

I have now applied for the role my boss in WftD had after he left. Have overheard that no candidate was suitable. You would think that after 5 years of both volunteering and WftD i would have the skills to do the same job for money in the same place. CEO and office staff have no idea what is going on in their shops and warehouse at any given time.

Host organisation nameLifeline Gippsland
Do you think the activities you did during the placement were useful or important?Not sure
Do you think these activities produced something valuable for the host organisation?Yes
Do you think these activities produced something valuable for the community more broadly?No
Did you learn something valuable or gain skills that you think make you more employable? Yes
Did you feel that you were in a safe working environment?Started to get a sore back from the manual labour..Bad feet from standing on concrete floor. general scrapes and scratches.
Did you enjoy doing Work for the Dole?Sometimes
Did you participate in Work for the Dole by choice?No, I did not want to participate in a work placement but I was not told there were other activities I could choose
What type of job or activities did you do?General manual labor; Cutting rags, unloading trucks, moving furniture, operating baler.
Do you think this should have been paid work?Yes. It’s bloody hard work out on the trucks picking up and delivering furniture, often standing on a concrete floor.
Did you get a paid job with the host organisation?Yes
Do you still work there?No. 12 Week temp contract through goverment funding via sidekicker app. still volunteer though.

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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