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.
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?