Friday, September 29, 2006

Welfare to Workhouse: Howard's "Deadbeat Dad" state abuses the bride and abandons the kids

DH has been reading a new report Poverty and Family Life under Welfare-to-Work: The Continuing Failure of Welfare Policy. (Helen Cameron, University of Sth Australia)

It's a great kick-ass report even if it does state the bleedin' obvious. After years in the big filing cabinet for human creativity called University, DH has been browbeaten into accepting that we need this kind of work to stick it to policy wonks in language they can't turn their noses up at. And, of course, preparing this kind of study does keep the middle classes off the streets and feeling important. DH is not knocking it - she may well end up being tidied up into something similar again soon. She's not about to turn her nose up at the last boat out of under-class stigma, marginalisation, and lack of status.

Though give DH a good cartoonist anytime to say the same thing without the verbiage.

But for those of you who get off on this kind of earnest thing, here are some great quotes.
The welfare-to-work "solution" can be thought of as a match made in hell. It puts poor mothers who need the most support and flexibility into jobs in the low-wage labor market which often are the most inflexible [and] have the least family-necessary benefits (Albelda 2000, p.32).

Meahan (2005) notes the ‘precarious positions of single parent families’ under Workchoice policy and about this pushing parents into an underpaying labour market without any beneficial impacts on their life chances or those of their children

[We should avoid ...] any approach that further demonises these families through suggesting they are responsible for their circumstances. ... our silence about poverty[... is] part of a social redefinition that dampens empathy and blocks any transformation of the circumstances of the poor. These parents are raising the next generation however and any processes that further limit these families’ life chances is an act against the future.

Read the whole thing at

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Welfare Bermuda Triangle

Can the Bermuda Triangle migrate in the manner of the hole in the ozone layer? If so, it's hovering right over DH"s place.
Consider all that has gone missing lately
  • Letter from Centrelink promised Wed Sep 13 (see below) advising DH of her work capacity test appointment (without which she has been told she cannot join Job Network
  • Response from D'oH to job application sent several months ago. (DH just rang to inquire, but was advised that decision was made ages ago and she didnt get the job. However no courtesy letter saying yay or nay has been rec'd from our ever efficient department)
  • Application form for another position in D'oH promised 5 days ago
  • One charity volunteer supposed to bring Electricity Vouchers (great move from Howard. Charity means never having to say "We're accountable", on the ground that it's charity and recipients should be grateful)
  • Food vouchers from charity. (see previous point on accountability). "Oops, we forgot to bring them, but never mind, we'll send them tomorrow with our other volunteer" (see previous point on missing volunteer ).
    That was a week ago. Just as well DH borrowed money from elsewhere to tide her over
  • And last but not least, D'oH contract tradespeople are notorious for disappearing without trace on the appointed day
OTOH, this theory breaks down somewhat when you consider the deluge of paperwork that arrives from Centrelink - see the little beaudies on the right...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Charity means never having to say "We're accountable"

As we know, the 3 Stooges, 'Bad Daddy' State is offloading its welfare responsibilities to charities, by the tried and tested principle that whoever has a heart will eventually pick up the tab. They know that the bleeding heart Mummies of the Nation, (whether it's nurses, teachers,pr the good ladies of Vinnies) will work miracles on low, or no, pay.

After 7 weeks of unemployment DH has only received about $280 from Centrelink (Yes, for the benefit of the Downwardly Envious, DH has been looking for work, and does have something lined up, but still has to eat and pay bills in the meantime.) She has had to approach various charities for electricity vouchers, food vouchers and financial assistance.

DH believes that Social Security is, as its name implies a form of insurance for all of society. As a taxpayer for over 30 years, DH feels she has more than paid her premiums to tide her over in her times of need.

The charities have helped her and she appreciates their effort. But she is depressed by their naivety, and for all the grief they give "the poor" as a result. DH doesn't want money in the name of a mythical Jesus with a reputedly bad attitude on things she holds dear, such as a Woman's Right to Choose, or the rights of homosexuals to love who they want. No, DH wants the rights that were fought for by generations of unionists, reformers, and socialists. If we left social policy to the religious, women like DH would still be veiled and begging on the outskirts of town.

Charity is demeaning. Why should DH have to explain her life situation to strangers who have little education, or understanding, who know nothing about disability. Why should DH have to feel guilty because these poor souls turn up after a hard days work and she wasnt home when they called, even if she wasnt told they were coming?

What on earth are they thinking when they ask you
"How much money do you need?".
Consider DH's inner dialogue:
Oh dear. What shall I say??? What is a fair amount?

If I get it wrong and ask for too much, will they think I am a bad selfish person? Will I be depriving others who are more needy than myself? I wonder how many other clients they've had this week? Am I even needy, or am I just a bad person who's not pulling their weight in society? Is my child really disabled? Am I really fatigued and depressed? Am I a dead loss to society if I don'tget a job at Woolworths as a checkout crone? How much longer can I afford to keep paying for private health insurance? ... yet if I stop now, how will I pay for my child's wisdom teeth extraction?

Yet, if I ask for too little, will I end up with less than I could have got?
Why should DH have to explain a disability that the volunteer ladies don't understand. Why should she feel desperate to prove that she is not making it up? Hasn't she had enough grief already? .Must she dramatise all the dramas of her life, which are bad enough as it is without having to turn on a royal command performance?

And what about the charities that ask you to put together a budget of all your expenses, including clothes, outings, entertainment?
HULLO! How much do YOU think we spend on entertainment and clothes from a weekly income of $250 after rent, which must still pay for transport, food, utilities, medications, school fees, telcom, .
Then there's the billionaire philanthropist who has set up a fund to give out food vouchers (from his own company ... one can only imagine the tax breaks he's getting. Why doesnt he just bloodoy well pay up his taxes and pressure his political cronies into maintaining a decent social security system?) (and where the hell is Kerry Packer when you need a good whipping gent?) Anyway, you can get the billionaires vouchers if you can get past the suspicious termagent who guards the phone... What they havent figured out is how you're supposed to get the shopping home - since the billionaire's company doesnt have a shop in your area, of the $100 voucher, $20 goes to the taxi fare home with the shopping.

Oh well, thank God, in our Brave New Australia, gotta be grateful we have food vouchers...

DH has to confess that she just spent $40 on a little black dress. But it was discounted from $120! She needed it to attend "drinks" for a leftist Labor politician, so she could hold her own amongst the Labor Glitterati without having to be ashamed of looking like a houso...

State funeral for a speed freak

Well, what can you expect from the "Bad Daddy" State. Honouring their own again.
Honestly, this gets on DH's goat. DH is not a sportin' lady, so excuse her for asking: What has this guy done except hooned around making a lot of noise, revving engines, spewing pollution. and then crashing into a tree. Good old Germaine has got it right again. And there better be a state funeral for her when she finally kicks the bucket.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bungle du jour a la Centrelink

Will it EVER end?

DH trekked out all the way to the C'link offices clutching her fortnightly application for payment form. The submission date hardcoded on the form was 12th September.
She was informed that the computer had it wrong and her submission date should be the 15th.

Q: Centrelink got it wrong, but guess who was to be penalised.
  1. Centrelink
  2. The mug customer
  3. Don't know
A: Do you doubt it???

Centrelink got it wrong, therefore, DH was expected to drop everything and trek down to the C'link AGAIN on the 15th - WITH THE SAME FORM!

The functionary behind the desk looked shell-shocked and wouldn't budge, just kept repeating the same mantra, "Yes, I know its our mistake, but yes, you still have to come in".

Fortunately, DH, remembering her former middle-class incarnation, insisted on seeing a supervisor. This poor bloke scratched his head and reckoned he couldnt make head or tail of her file! And this despite the fact that her case is perfectly ordinary. She reported on the 3rd of August, should have started receiving payment thereafter, and its been one bungle after the other since.

Anyhow, the fellow eventually took pity on DH, changed the date on the form, and let her off the which is great because DH had a busy day on Friday. If you must know, she is an amateur actress, and she was desperately making props for the premiere of her latest musical comedy, (in which she is once again typecast as a fishwife)

Anyhow, it's a mystery. How can so many things go wrong with one simple file??? DH can only guess that God is watching over her blog, wants her to tell it like it is, and this is his way of sending her copy.

Bread, circuses and state funerals

Time was when two old diggers couldn't sit down for a beer without John Howard popping up between them for a photo opportunity. But he's found a bigger winner this year with the lumpen-middle class, the "MacMansions and Circuses" brigade. He's throwing around State Funerals like there's no heavenly reward for virtue. As long as you're a sportsman or apolitical entertainer that is.
Anyone have any idea of how many state funerals there have been for women by the way ...
Plaint of 1st Century politician: Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things -- bread and circuses (Satires of Juvenal, 60-100 AD)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hurrah! A Centrelink payment at last after 6 weeks!

All of $73!!!

... and this has to cover the next fortnight ...
oh, except that $35 went to the Commonwealth bank as a fine for her HCF direct debit defaulting.
That leaves DH with just $39.99 for the duration
Note to Vinnies and Salvos: Expect another call soon. (watch this space for the Intelligent Woman's Guide to Becoming a Charity Case)

Worry du jour: Health insurance

Wake early aching all over (can't afford a softer mattress) .
Toss and turn, worrying about defaulting HCF payment (the second in a row). DH is now $440 in arrears, plus has incurred $70 in bank fees for the 2 defaulting payments. She is in it as a family with her mother, which allows her to share the cost and cover her child at the same time. She would get out of it, but her daughter needs to have all her wisdom teeth removed.  So much money gone down the drain already, pity to stop now, only to find self with horrible hospitalisable disease bummer the very next day, would be typical, and just DH's luck. Will use tax refund (due any day now) to pay off HCF arrears and hope mother doesnt need major surgery in next two weeks. Just have to borrow from same long-suffering friend as last time.

For the record: Work capacity testing. disability, AS

Centrelink called back as promised. As in almost every encounter, the young woman from the call centre was quite lovely, very sympathetic and considerate. But as usual, the administrative chaos was on show. DH told that the reason she had not been registered with a job network member was because she was scheduled for a "Work Capacity Test" first. This was news to DH, as she did not register as having a disability. However, there was some discussion at her interview about carer stress despite her not meeting the criteria for a carer's pension, and it appears that all this somehow got lost in the system.
Note: All this requires an understanding of the complexities of the newly named Autistic Spectrum Disorders, or "Asperger Syndrome". It is a disability of social communication, and is outside the established categories of disability (intellectual, physical, or "psychiatric"). People with AS are not intellectually disabled, do not need constant supervision, in fact are often happiest left alone with their special interests. Nevertheless, they can be socially helpless, require a lot of emotional input, and in some ways can be more demanding on families than other kinds of disabilities. For those who believe every new disability is just a political stunt to get on the victim bandwagon/ luxuriate on the disability pension, (whyever???!!!) AS is not a new disability, just a newly named disability. Eventually many families affected by AS ended up in other kinds of trouble, usually pigeonholed as "mentally ill", people with AS often presented with anxiety and depression due to bullying and lack of understanding of their difficulties, while their families were stigmatised as somehow "causing" their odd behaviour, and with carer stress causing isolation and depression, }

Monday, September 11, 2006

For Centrelink Appeals Committee's eyes only

What, still here?
    • What are you, some kind of masochist?
    • Do you have a paper fetish?
    • Get off on being disciplined by bureaucratic troikas?
    • Do you just love to crawl cap in hand before appeals committees?
    • Do you like to ring Centrelink just to hear inexperienced young CSO's whisper acronyms into your ears?
Then read on, you're in the right place.

DH will be using this diary to record contacts with Centrelink in all their mind-numbing detail.

Why? Because the unequal onus of proof on what transpires in interviews with Centrelink penalises its clients. This diary will be an outside witness to her claims.

Frinstance, [see below for blow-by-blow) DH phone Kafkalink on 3rd August to claim Newstart. Advised that all was hunky-dory and her Newstart allowance would be back-dated to that date. However, though she has the receipt number to prove her call, nevertheless, Centrelink now will only pay her from the 16th.

Centrelink's computer system, while recording her phone call and receipt no, did not record the purpose of the call and therefore denies all responsibility for backdating her payment.

However, dont bother wasting your life reading this unless you are
    1. on the Centrelink Appeals Committee
    2. have an academic interest in the level of control Centrelink now exerts on the day to day life of Australian citizens

Record of phone conversation with Centrelink (receipt # available on request)
NB: As usual the Call Centre Blokeperson (CSB) on the other end of the line was very helpful, really nice, and had a good sense of humour. He was very knowledgable as well, which is unfortunately not always the case given the reputedly high turnover rate of call centre staff. It's the policies that are crook, not the Centrelink workers who do an impossible job with great consideration and kindness.

  1. DH's dole diary is due on the 11th
  2. Her application for payment form is due on the 12th
  3. Therefore she wants to know if this is a slip-up, or whether she seriously is expected to take the bus to Leichhardt on 2 consecutive days.
  4. She is doing a training course all day on the 12th, and cannot hand the form in personally anyway
  5. Her Activity Agreement also stipulated that she must make at least 1 job search contact per ftnight via a job network member (JNM), and she has not yet got an appt with one.
  6. She was advise by the CSB that
    • it wd be OK to hand in boths form on the 13th, or else fax the form and take in the diary at a later date.
    • that it was not DH's responsibility to seek a JNM, but that she should have been referred to one by Centrelink at her 3rd interview
  7. The CSB undertook to refer her case back to the CSO at the intake interview, re getting her in touch with a JNM by phone in the next 2 or 3 days
  8. The CSB assured her that she would not be penalised due to not having been in contact with a JNM
  9. The CSB undertook to post her an appeals form.
Centrelink, it's your call.

Posted by DH to Diary of a Desperate Houso at 9/11/2006 01:56:22 PM

Monday, September 04, 2006

Centrelink chicanery

Item 1. Deceptive practise 
DH is gobsmacked at the depths of chicanery* to which Howard's Centrelink has sunk in order to save itself $400  - money that means nothing to the taxpayer but means quite simply that she is now absolutely destitute and reliant on food vouchers, is under financial house arrest as she and her daughter have less than $10 left in the world. Her first Centrelink payment after a month of unemployment will be $11 (as the Department of Housing has first claim due to its direct debit arrangement)
DH's job ended on 3rd August. She rang up Centrelink on that day to claim Newstart or a Carer's Pension. (You can verify this for yourself on this blog for the 3rd of August).  Due to the obvious misinformation suppled by the young call centre operator, she told Centrelink that she would call back when she had made an informed decision. (DH has now heard from Centrelink insiders that Centrelink's call centre operators are indeed as ill-informed and poorly trained as they sound, thanks to high staff turnover in an impossible job)

She was assured that provided she called back within 2 weeks, her claim would be backdated to the 3rd.
DH rang back on the 7th August notifying her intention to claim Newstart. She duly received a letter stating that her claim had been rec'd,  along with a page of details that does not look anything like a usual Centrelink form, but which apparently was meant to be signed and sent in by the 16th.
DH was not informed of any of this verbally, all she knew was that she had done everything required of her, had made an appointment for a phone interview, and trusted that everything was OK, Being busy, she did not read the small print, She still had sufficient trust as an Australian citizen to believe that information given by phone, (with receipt number) in such a serious matter could be trusted.
At her intake interview in Parker St however, she was shocked to discover that because she had not sent in this form, her claim would only start 2 weeks later. The phone receipt counted for nothing, because Centrelink did not record a reason for the call. How convenient for them,to assume that DH had merely rung up for a bitter of a natter about this and that, totally unrelated to a need to get sustenance.
If this is not chicanery, what is?
Item 2. Holiday pay scam
DH also found that as she had 13 days holiday pay coming to her, her Centrelink payment would be delayed too weeks. While DH considers this ethically outrageous,  (as it penalises workers who do not claim their holiday pay out of a misguided sense of responsibility. DH wishes now that she had taken more leave from her job. She has been far too generous to her ungrateful employer), Nevertheless this is a rule not a scam.
The scam is that this holiday pay period does not start from the date that work ends, but from the date that the employer actually pays you. DH;s employer gave her her holiday pay a week late. It's pure chicanery on Centrelink's part that they penalise her a weeks pension because her employer paid her late.,
If this is not chicanery, what is?
chicanery. –noun, plural -er-ies.
1. trickery or deception by quibbling or sophistry: He resorted to the worst flattery and chicanery to win the job.
2. a quibble or subterfuge used to trick, deceive, or evade.
 3. the use of tricks to deceive someone (usually to extract money from them) [syn: trickery, chicane, guile, wile, shenanigan]

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Howard's "Deadbeat Dad State" does a runner

Howard's Daddy State is acting like an abusive husband toward his welfare bride and dependants.
DH's Newstart interview yesterday, left her reeling in shock with the Howard Government's absolute contempt for natural justice, (details in next blog entry), and got her thinking.
If Howards Centrelink had a personality, what would it be?
Consider the profile of a battering husband.
  1. Control freak. Wants to know every aspect of bride's movements. Suspects bride of being in sexual relationship with any person of the opposite sex who enters the house, and will send spies to check her toothbrush collection if necessary.
  2. Paranoid tendancies. Needs constant reassurance of bride's fidelity. Forces her to keep diary detailing every movement, and checks it regularly
  3. Belittles and demeans bride at every opportunity till the downward spiral of low self-esteem becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Humiliates her in public at every opportunity.
  4. Financially abusive. Is filthy rich, has money to burn when it comes to private detectives to keep bride under surveillance, and for junkets with his big-end mates, but controls domestic purse strings so tightly that there is barely enough to feed the children. Bride cannot afford decent clothes or haircuts so becomes shame-ridden and begins to hide away from friends and networks that might support her. May dream of escape, but without the busfare to town, never makes it. Besides, husband has used clout in local chamber of commerce to run domestic violence shelters out of town.
  5. Has his way with her whenever he feels like it.
  6. In public passes himself off as pillar of community.