Saturday, February 18, 2006

Letter from a friend driven to desperation by DOH 'policy'

How Housing and Welfare policy actively discriminate against workers and are a disincentive to employment.
I have received this from a friend, "Olivia" who is in a very similar situation to myself.  Her children have the same neurological disorder as mine. The key features of this disability is absence of 'wiring' for social reciprocity. Olivia was deserted by her partner, who is very wealthy but refuses to pay maintenance. He is a vexatious litigant who repeatedly hauls her through the courts simply to control and torment her. He always loses these cases but not before extracting the maximum amount of pain. With 2 early teenage boys with serious and demanding personality disorders, including ADHD and mild intellectual deficit,  she is almost fully occupied with the daily onslaught of the boys' relentless demands, trouble-shooting at school, dealing with "helping" agencies, and trying to stay sane under her husbands attacks. Despite all this,  Olivia is a beautiful, warm, caring and conscientious young mother, much loved by all of us who know her in our disability community. You would never guess to look at her that she is living at subsistence levels of income. Despite what she has to cope with, she took on a tertiary level course, graduated last year and was immediately snapped up by recruiters. She was very excited to be beginning her new career, an ideal job close to home with family friendly hours.
Olivia started her new job 3 weeks ago.
She has now resigned.
The Letter
Hi D...

I have so much to tell you.  I am exhausted.  The bottom line is I am working 5 days a week and am in fact worse off.  I resigned on Monday and told them I will continue to work for as long as it takes them to find someone to replace me but have asked them to only pay me 2 days a week and I will work 5 days as I am better off 2 days.

Desperate to talk to you but each night I run around and before in know it, its really late.  I basically eat my lunch and keep working and by the time I get home I run around and fall into bed about 12 or 1am.

I have another huge day tomorrow but will try to ring you tomorrow night or Friday to organise to get together.  Will try to give you a quick buzz tomorrow from work (very hard talking at work even for a minute - I nick into the toilet and ring on my mobile) and see if we can set something up.

Its 12.30 and I will be up at 5.40am.  What a nightmare.

Look forward to speaking to you soon
Olivia's statement to Carers Australia
I have two sons with disabilities, one with Aspergers Syndrome (Autism Spectrum) and the other with a raft of problems and is described as, "a boy who is handicapped by multiple overlapping problems and behaviours which fulfil the diagnosis of combined subtype ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder, in addition to suffering from severe learning disbilities".  Sorry about this description but there is no succinct "label". 

I receive a Carers Allowance for the boys and Parenting Payment.  Because I am in Department of Housing, when I took on this recent job my rent almost trippled.  This explains the figures in my email.  The Department of Housing has recently bought in new reforms.  I have always paid 25% of anything I receive (parenting payment, family tax, child support, interest on savings, etc).  Now you have to pay 30% if you earn over a certain amount and this then becomes a sliding scale upwards until you pay full rent.

When I took the job I believed I would be getting $28,536.80 per year.  My rent went from $107.08 per week to $234.99 per week.  After starting the job I found out that in fact my wage would be $37,526.32 per year.  I was so excited, $9,000 a year more !!  After applying the formula I soon found out that my rent went up to $267.03 per week and I lost my Parenting Payment completely - the extra $9000 per year equated to an extra $30 per week BUT with the extra rent and loss of benefits I was in reality worse off with the $9000 extra.

I have a friend who also has a child with Autism and is in Dept of Housing and who has recently started working.  She is on Carers Payment and is at the moment deciding wether to continue with her job or to resign.  Basically if you are in our situation it is almost impossible to get ahead or improve your situation.  I will discuss this with her and feel she would also be happy to share her situation with you.

Thank you

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