They neglected the most important part for me, checking that the place was wheelchair accessible.

This response is from a person in their 30s living in Sydney. They have been homeless and their DSP claim was rejected. They have requested that their name be withheld.

They neglected the most important part for me, checking that the place was wheelchair accessible.

Survey responses

Which payment do you get from Centrelink?JobSeeker
Do you ever worry about losing your payment?Yes
Provider namesAPM, Ability Options
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 experienced discrimination on the basis of your race, gender, sexuality, disability or religion from someone at a provider or host organisation?Yes
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?

That people who have been handed free education, and pathways influenced from a range of privileges, should not be telling the bulk of jobseekers/disabled people/pensioners what they need to do to receive a pittance of money that places us well and truly under the poverty line. These systems are humiliating, dehumanising and cause so much stress and pressure on vulnerable people as is, throw in some stigmas and constantly being at the whims of a job network consultant, doesn’t leave much room for us to take care of ourselves and make safe/wise decisions about our futures.

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

With a combination of Autism, ADHD, CFS, Fibromyalgia and EDS it gets hard to balance stuff. Especially as I am also studying at uni so my fatigue levels are very hard to manage, and my stress goes through the roof. Particualarly during covid and trying to find work from home roles to apply for to meet my obligations. I am very concerned about needing to go back to face to face appointments being immune comprimised. In addition I am still referred to as “female” as a trans/non-binary person.

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?

Work for the dole, constant study, study and job search “activities” at the same time

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

APM: My consultant so far is great, and willing to work with my immune system issues despite losing my entire medical support team during covid and not being able to provide evidence. But she is incredibly over worked (I spoke with her last week and she is the only DES consultant in the entire time currently). I know she is only good because she is new to the role and not yet burnt out/beaten down by the system. But in terms of actual assistance I have received none, no referrals, no job applications, no leads, no support with my uni and I still need to apply for the full load of jobs too.

Ability Options: Consistently unhelpful and refusing to acknowledge my uni course as valid study, even as a disabled person. Eventually I convinced them to help me find a student placement for my uni course, but they neglected the most important part for me, checking that the place was wheelchair accessible. They didn’t tell the place that I was a wheelchair user so when I contacted them and found this out I asked about their access and was ghosted. It was the last straw for me because when I called them to ask why they had neglected this basic info sharing they tried to say that was my job, not theirs, to even enquire about access.

Placement experience – Work for the Dole

I was placed at a charity organisation and the job was meant to be landscaping. I was not given any other options. I am physically disabled and at the time had no access to a wheelchair or other mobility aids, so was physically unable to participate, but often forced to for obligations and checks.

We were also not allowed to go inside the building while on the job site, so we had no access to a bathroom. I was also the only femme person on the site, so while everyone else was able to urinate around the back of the shed I had to hold my urine until I got home. For most of the time there we had no tasks to do, with only one mower available for an area about the size of a football field.

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?No
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? No
Did you feel that you were in a safe working environment?No
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
Do you think this should have been paid work? Yes. The only actual tasks we had were mowing the lawns, which was the size of a football field, and in the last 2 weeks building garden beds and laying pavers, which I feel are skills based roles, not for work for the dole.
Did you get a paid job with the host organisation?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.

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