Punishing “dole cheats”

In the same week that the Australia Institute announced that the complexity of the welfare system saw welfare recipients miss out on $600 million a year, the Rudd government announced it intended to make the system more complex and demanding in a new crackdown.

The mainstream political narrative in this country seems to be that if you are unemployed, you are a cheat.

Apparently I am a cheat.

For twelve months I could not find a job. Eventually I got a job. I lied through my teeth on OS a resume and an interview in order savez to obtain a measly eight hours of back breaking humiliating and under paid labour for a supermarket chain.

There are 615 900 people looking for work in this Australia. And there are 169 000 job vacancies.

Even if every person who was unemployed had ALL the required skills, could travel to anywhere in the country at the drop of a hat, and was prepared to accept any wage, in any safety conditions, in order to perform absolutely any work available, no matter how humiliating, ill-suited or inappropriate… even then 446 900 Australians would remain dole cheats.

There is not enough damned work. And no amount of harassment from Centrelink could make nearly half a million Australians pull a job out of their arse.

So why are welfare recipients persecuted? Here are a couple of things to consider:

$600 million dollars is a lot of money. The Australia institute arrived at that figure by looking at just four welfare payments, the Parenting Payment, Carer Allowance, Disability Support Pension and Bereavement Allowance.

* Every person Alcohol who does not know about a payment saves the government money.
* Every person who can’t navigate their way through the forms, saves the government money.
* Every person who loses the dole for telling Centrelink where to shove yet another humiliating interview, saves the government money.
* Every person who is taught to find welfare too humiliating, saves the government money.
* Every person who piles up the credit card debt for a few weeks before going to Centrelink, saves the government money.
* Every person forced to beg from friends, family and charities, saves the government money.
* Every person who dies Hello an early death because of the health effects of poverty, saves the government money.

There is big money for the government in persecuting welfare recipients. There is even bigger money in welfare persecution for business.

By persecuting welfare recipients, our government forces us into jobs we would not normally accept, for wages we would not normally accept, and in conditions we would not normally accept.

A life on the dole is a life in poverty, and im that in itself forces people into humiliating, underpaid and unsafe work.

But there are still underpaid, unsafe and humiliating jobs out there. They are jobs so lowly paid, so unsafe or so humiliating that even a life in poverty of the dole seems preferable.

They exist. I have tried them. I would prefer live sleep under a de bridge than go back to selling Austar door to door.

And the government knows this. And that’s why the humiliation of poverty is not enough, life on $200 a week is not enough, “job seekers” have to be persecuted further.

There are, after all 169 000 vacancies, many of them will never be filled unless workers are forced into them.

And there are all those jobs that might fall empty (like nightfill), if workers aren’t reminded just how horrible the alternative is.

Next time you find yourself at the mercy of the welfare system, ask yourself, who does this process really serve?

1 Comment

  1. It’s interesting to note that as a full time single father I too am a dole cheat! I Care for my daughter full-time, and honestly have greater respect for single parents than 12 months ago. I have spent my time in the workforce, and on the dole, and while it was my decision to leave my partner and become a full-time dad, I never realised the amount of work involved.
    To be labelled a dole cheat, considering my work load, is an absolute disgrace, especially considering it is the same government that pays my pension that had told me that I do not need to look for or take up employment until my daughter is six years old – that’s five years away! The hypocritical ‘democratic’ society that we live in really does enforce the fact that the left hand not only doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, it plain doesn’t give a shit how it is effected!
    I don’t tally up my hours, but my day is filled with washing clothes & dishes, picking up toys, feeding & entertaining my daughter, providing entertainment (the tv helps, but it is not a baby sitter), changing nappies, and when I thinly the day ends, I am on call 24 hours a day! I shudder at the thought of my ‘hourly rate’ for the mediocre financial payment I receive.
    To be considered a cheat for not being employed is a disgrace and an embarrassment to the country my ancestors fought for and gave their lives for.
    /end rant 🙂

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