This response is from a woman in her 40s living in regional Victoria. She doesn’t see the point in applying for the DSP or telling Centrelink about her disability because they don’t recognise chronic illness. She has requested that her name be withheld.

I know I need support, and there isn’t anyone there to provide it.

Survey responses

Which payment do you get from Centrelink?JobSeeker
Do you ever worry about losing your payment?Yes
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; Yes, I have been a carer for a child; Yes, I have been a carer for an adult
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?

The rate needs to be raised – Mutual obligations don’t work in their current form – have proper support for job seekers that includes career training to help find meaningful work and match the right person to the right job instead of just shoving them into any old employment (not everyone is cut out to work in retail or hospitality) – provide proper support for carers (caring doesn’t stop once a child turns 7 or 8) and those with disability.

Do you do any unpaid work?

I am a carer for my 18yo who has ME/CFS and autism and is currently bedbound, yet not considered ‘disabled’!

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

The amount is not enough to live on. There are so many ‘busy work’ hoops to go through, even though we need the money, I’m reluctant to sign up my 18yo for youth allowance as he’s bedbound with ME/CFS & can’t meet mutual obligations, yet would be expected to! The system is crazy to navigate and there is very little communication and not a single number to call to find out what is happening.

Do you want to say anything about your experiences of being disabled in the workforce and/or on Centrelink payments?

Centrelink don’t see chronic illness as a disability. They also assume people with disabilities are not intelligent… having to prove disability to get support is exhausting.

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

Stress makes my mental health worse as well as impacts my chronic health conditions resulting in migraines and extreme fatigue, and increased pain. The biggest issue is that I know I need support, and there isn’t anyone there to provide it.

Has a provider ever caused a problem with your payment?

Yes, and my payment was cancelled entirely.

What is the worst activity you have had to do?

NEIS program – I knew more than the teacher, and so much of what they were teaching doesn’t actually work. Also, applying for 20 jobs a month, after being told by the job agency that I should be on the disability stream and the sorts of jobs I need (at home, flexible), don’t exist.

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

The provider told me I should be with a disability provider, but weren’t able to tell me how to get on that stream… there was also no change to the number of jobs to look for, and no career or job guidance at all!

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

Just a general rant – I’m tired of working hard and getting no where. I’m tired of being treated like less than a second class citizen. I work hard, I have 2 jobs, do contract work, and care for my son, yet this isn’t enough. In order to get a pittance, I have to do even more, which is affecting my mental and physical help. I can’t help but think if I’d had proper support over the years, especially with being able to change industries to something I can physically do now, I wouldn’t be in this position… however Centrelink and the Job Search Agencies just don’t care. I feel like I’m in the ‘too hard’ basket as I don’t tick the relevant boxes.

Placement experience – training

The course was online and the tutors & mentors straight out told me to lie in the plan. There was no support to create a viable business plan or help me find direction… just a course then an expectation to submit a business plan & financial plan. They also treated me as if I was stupid and didn’t know anything when I have previously run an award winning business!

Training organisation nameAPM
Do you think the person or people running the training were appropriately qualified?No
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
Did you feel that you were in a safe working environment?Yes, some of the time
Was the course with a TAFE or a private training provider?My job agency
Was the training organisation connected to your job agency?Yes
Did you organise the course yourself?No, the job agency organised the course but I was involved
Did you enjoy the training activities?No
Did you participate in training by choice?Yes, my job agency suggested I do a training course even though I didn’t have to
What type of training or activities did you do?NEIS program – training was pretty useless as I knew more than the tutor & there was nothing to do with helping people get RPL
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 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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