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

Phone appointments were skipped by APM, then I would get cut off… I started living in fear of APM.

Survey responses

Which payment do you get from Centrelink?Austudy
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 experienced mistreatment from a provider or other organisation because of activities you were required to do?Yes, I have been bullied or abused
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 been a student
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?

For my entire working life I’ve paid tax, a couple of hundred thousand at least. Please please please, when I get sick, can you give enough of that tax back so I can live like a human and not a leech.

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

It’s just been a horrible experience. Living below the poverty line, means just that, living in poverty. Eating just bread or missing meals isn’t unusual, forget being able to get dental care, luxuries, having decent clothes, having a reliable car, living close to a workplace. I’ve got 18 months of a degree left and don’t feel confident i’ll make it. I hate that we don’t take care of people who need help in this country.

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

There aren’t enough jobs for those that are unemployed. Punishing the unemployed is just terrible for mental health. The anxiety from these appointments is almost unbearable. Phone appointments were skipped by APM, then I would get cut off. I got cut off so many times for ridiculous reasons, that I started living in fear of APM. If i got cut off it often meant I wouldn’t eat and couldn’t leave the house due to not being able to afford to travel.

Has a provider ever caused a problem with your payment?

Respondents may select more than one option

  • Yes, and my payment was reduced
  • Yes, and my payment was late
  • Yes, and my payment was suspended

What is the worst activity you have had to do?

The appointments are super humiliating. I’ve had to wait in line for 85 mins for a two minute appointment. Job agency’s are a complete waste of time. I’ve got accustomed to stupid questions like “why don’t you get a job in the mines?”…. I didn’t say it, but was thinking “Yeah… I’ll just go pull a job in the mines out of my ass. I’m sure they’ll want me with no qualifications an unstable work history…

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

They are truly just awful. They aren’t interested in getting you a job at all. It’s a humiliating, degrading and I hated every interaction I had with them. The one job i got during the time I was with them, I had to lie to get, saying i had been running my own small business. This of course, blew up in my face when they called the company and started harassing them for payslips, after I told them repeatedly not to contact the company. I should have never have trusted them with the name of the company.

Is there anything you want to add that we didn’t ask you about?

Just keep up the good work. Our system is so broken.

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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