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Newstart recipients forced into homelessness after payments cut

Newstart recipients forced into homelessness after payments cut. Source: Getty

A new survey has confirmed Centrelink services are ‘broken,’ as the government faces continued calls from experts and welfare recipients alike to raise the Newstart rate. 

The Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union (AUWU) surveyed over 650 Newstart recipients and found 500, or 75 per cent, of recipients had received payment cancellations because they had not done what was required in their job plans.

As a result of the loss of payments, 75 Newstart recipients indicated they became homeless, while 175 indicated they skipped meals, and over 150 indicated they relied on charities and food parcels.

Newstart recipients’ mutual obligations ‘need urgent reform’

According to the AUWU, Newstart recipients’ ‘mutual obligations’, or the obligations they are required to meet in order to receive their payment, need “urgent reform”.

“The results clearly show how current Mutual Obligation requirements are punitive and that the majority of job seekers do not get any benefit from employment services,” the report stated. 

In fact, 90 per cent of respondents surveyed stated the activities that job providers placed them in didn’t help them get a job.

“The results showed there was very little choice over activities and that job seekers were not listened to about what they wanted to do.”

This is consistent with 27-year-old Harriet’s experience with her job provider, as she told Yahoo Finance.

“My mutual obligations are to apply for 20 jobs per month, and obviously to attend all appointments that my job active provider sets,” Harriet said.

“In Adelaide, they used to make me attend the office once a week for an hour to apply for jobs in their office, and I’m like, ‘Why can’t I do that at home?’ I’m already applying for 20 jobs a month, why do I need to head out for the day and do that there?”

The majority of respondents also strongly disagreed that provider appointments were useful for getting a job, and also strongly disagreed that they had a good relationship with their providers.

Harriet told Yahoo Finance her job active providers have often told her to remove some of her qualifications of her resume to get jobs.

“I would get knocked back for being overqualified, and while it is practical advice, it’s really f****ing bleak.”

Centrelink complaints process deemed inadequate

Survey respondents indicated that the complaints process with Centrelink was also inadequate. 

The results are consistent with Monash University’s study into Centrelink’s disability pension, which found that 91 per cent of recipients and 94 per cent of applicants of the pension found it difficult to get in contact with Centrelink. 

“The major findings really are that people find their interactions with Centrelink to be quite challenging and what we call opaque, which just means they’re not sure how to proceed through the Centrelink processes,” author Professor Alex Collie told Yahoo Finance.

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