This response is from a woman in her 30s who has been homeless and is living in regional Victoria. She has requested that her name be withheld.

They keep trying to get my payslips. I got the job I have now, not them.

Survey responses

Which payment do you get from Centrelink?JobSeeker
Do you ever worry about losing your payment?Yes
Provider namesAPM, Sureway
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 had paid work while doing ‘mutual’ obligations; Yes, I have been a carer for an adult; Yes, I have been a student
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?

YOU survive on 40 a day and jump through JSP hoops without the help of your buddies or family.

Do you do any unpaid work?

I live with my mum so I can care for her. I do all the cooking, housework and drive her where she needs to go. She’s had 3 strokes and a brain infection, but apparently isn’t so bad she needs a carer by centrelink standards.

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

I have horrible generalised anxiety and depression. I do my best but sometimes feel like I’m drowning when it’s not enough for JSPs. My current job is sustainable for me and my circumstances, but it’s not enough in the eyes of jobactive.

Has a provider ever caused a problem with your payment?

Respondents may select more than one option

Yes, and my payment was suspended

What is the worst activity you have had to do?

Cleaning out an animal shelter, no PPE, no supervision or training. At one point another participant sprayed me all over with some chemical I still don’t know what it was. And I was expected to walk there, 8km from my house, across a train line that had to pedestrian crossing and 90% industrial park land. I was 18, female and 55kgs soaking wet.

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

Sureway: They tried to bully me into signing a consent form but backed off when I mentioned making a complaint. Treated me OK so far, but I do think it’s because I came to them after making formal complaints against my previous provider and how vocal I was about it. They keep trying to get my payslips though. I got the job I have now, not them.

APM: She was horrible. Made me feel terrible for not progressing in life during the pandemic whilst I isolated with I’m immuno-compromised mum. And in knowing my situation, tried to get me to interview at a doctors office. She told me that APM had a seperate agreement with Centrelink, and that they weren’t beholden to the Jobactive Deed, and when I called her out and quoted the relevant legislation RE appointment frequency (I lived in a smaller town, 24 mins drive from the office, no car, no public transport. She wanted me in there every week and refused to make some appointments over the phone) – she doubled down and told me to speak with her manager. I lodged a formal complaint, and whilst waiting for my new JSA she gave me a non attendance failure for an appointment I was never notified of. Also when I started wftd I was placed into a course that I had never expressed any interest in and was told I couldn’t change it. Oh and was only notified that I was meant to do it 1 day in advance

Placement experience – Work for the Dole

I was the only one that could use a sewing machine and had to train everyone else in the group. Being a new endeavour, I had to put together policies regarding customer service, safety etc which have since been used across the entire organisation. Sometimes I was left alone to supervise the site.

Host organisation namePaynesville Neighbourhood Centre
Do you think the activities you did during the placement were useful or important?No
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?Yes, some of the time. I sewed through my thumb. It was a second hand machine, sewing through second hand fabrics. No idea how clean the needle was. Was told ‘down the road do free tetanus shots, I think’.
Do you want to say anything about your experience with this placement?It was rorting the system. I wasn’t told when my hours were up, and the site manager actually told the others not to inform me. I did a whole weeks extra work, free, and only found out when I got a failure to attend a jsp appointment because I was at my wftd site.
Was the host organisation connected to your job agency?No
Did you enjoy doing Work for the Dole?No
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?I sewed shopping bags.
Do you think this should have been paid work?Yes
Did you get a paid job with the host organisation?No

Placement experience – training

I did a Cert 2 Community Services. I’ve already got a cert 4 in MHAOD and half a bachelor’s degree in behavioural psychology. Horribly boring and not relevant.

Training organisation namealffie
Do you think the person or people running the training were appropriately qualified?Not sure
Did the training suit your skill level?No
Do you think the training activities were useful or important?No
Did you learn something valuable from the training that you think makes you more employable? No
Was the course with a TAFE or a private training provider?Private provider
Did you organise the course yourself?No, the job agency organised the course and I had no involvement at all
Did you enjoy the training activities?No
Did you participate in training by choice?No, when I reached the Work for the Dole phase I asked to do training instead to fulfil my Annual Activity Requirement
Did the training you received help you get a job?No
What do you think is the quality of the training you received?Low

Employment experience

The employer tried to get me to lie about my hours so he would get the subsidy, but wouldn’t give me the hours legitimately. He also stalked me.

Employer nameMain Motel Bairnsdale
Did you enjoy the job?Sometimes
What sort of work did you do?Housekeeping at a motel
Who helped you get the job?No one
Did you get paid mainstream award wages or higher?No, I earned below the standard minimum wage
Do you still work there?No.
About how long did the job last?5 months
Why did you stop working there?Injury
Did you feel that you were in a safe working environment?No

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.

Scroll to Top