Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The "Cain't get Mah Rental Subsidy Form" Blues

DH is worried that some of her fans in the D'oH might be feeling neglected because they haven't copped a mention in months.
It's simple. The system works well as long as tenants are unemployed, the money circulates quite happily via direct debits between Centrelink and the D'oH, without any need for the middleman, the tenant.

D'oH has no problems with people being unemployed. It's when someone gets a job that the department goes into fibrillation, especially if that job involves income that varies from week to week.

As the appalling prospect of employment looms for DH, her wishlist from the Department is

  • a speedy online and/or telephone income reporting system: report now and document later
  • quick response on the new rent payable to avoid a backlog of rent arrears
  • finding a way of not "outing" public housing tenants to their new employers
instead of the current 30 Point Plan (based on a compilation of everything that has happened to DH this year).

See next pos for this simple plan:

DOH's Simple 30 Step Plan for Income Reporting

  1. Tenant rings D'oH to to notify them of new employment
  2. The call centre promises to put the appropriate form, the Rental Subsidy Form into the mail.
  3. Next day, the form does not arrive.
  4. A week later, tenant who is busy trying to impress employers in new job and doesnt have time to keep ringing DOH, rings again to enquire "Where is my Rental Subsidy form?".
  5. Go to Step 2. Keep going to step two until several weeks pass.
  6. Form finally arrives.
  7. Form now lies mouldering in bottom of tenant's handbag while s/he is distracted by demands of new job
  8. Tenant smites forehead, having just noticed crumb-encrusted form at bottom of handbag.
  9. Feeling reluctant to out herself as a houso when her new employer still thinks she's a pillar of the community, decides she might just wait a bit.
  10. Tenant bites bullet and is referred to company accountant, who is invariably on leave for another 2 weeks, and has more important things to catch up with when they get back than worry about about some houso's pathetic form.
  11. Tenant hassles accountant for another week until form finally rubber stamped
  12. Form now lies mouldering in handbag for another week, because tenant is out of habit of using snail mail.
  13. Plus, let us be perfectly frank, tenant has just started work after a period of barely subsistence income. Tenant needs new work clothes, has lost transport and medication subsidies, the creditors have all come home to roost, the tenant has a bit of money in her hands, and is in no hurry to be pushed back to a level of disposable income that's only a few dollars more than s/he on the carer's pension. For those of you in the know, TEIS, the Tenant Employment Incentive Scheme has not kicked in because this is not the tenant's first short-term contract this year. So tenant uses the system in the same way as the rich guys, and hope that when the rent bill catches up with her some deus-ex-machina will save her
  14. Tenant finally posts the form to DoH
  15. Tenant waits longer than seems reasonable for a response from Department
  16. Still no word from Department
  17. Tenant rings up Department
  18. Department is required by law to have lost any record of tenants ever calling them on any matter
  19. Department promises to pass on urgent message to team leader who is "out visiting sites".
  20. Team leader doesn't call back. (Repeat steps 15 thru 16 n times, or till patience wears out)
  21. Eventually another form is accquired by circuitous means: try influence peddling, weeping, threatening self-harm, contacting local member,
  22. Go through rigmarole with employer's accountant again (Go to step 6)
  23. Finally hand deliver the form to DOH just to be on the safe side
  24. DOH takes another surprisingly long time to work out new rent
  25. Start paying rent plus arrears, unless a particularly zealous CSO, acting on new slash-and-burn ministerial directive, decides its time the tenant was taught a lesson and has 'em hauled before the CTT (The Tribunal)
  26. Tenant realises that the rent calculation was wrong. D'oH calculates the rent 3 different ways, and it never comes out the same.
  27. After much head-scratching and whispered background consulting with superiors, the correct formula is negotiated over the next couple of days.
  28. By this time, tenant's contract has ended and s/he is unemployed again.
    But now, she must pay rent on an income s/he is no longer earning, having already spent the rent money on the items listed in point 12.
  29. Get next job, hopefully soon.
  30. Go straight to Step 1. Do not collect Rental Subsidy form, that comes much later ...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Centrelink administrative chaos

DH's simple query: "How many hours am I required to work given my age?" coupled with being a week late with her diary due to a date mix-up, almost melted down Centrelink's computer system. Alright so she's exaggerating a weeeeeeeeeeeee bit, but this query resulted in a frenzy of clicking - she kids you not, the CSO, brows furrowed,  clicked thru and backwards and forwards between 10 and 20 unintelligible screens - DH's life in numbers, and after all that a supervisor had to be called to sort it out. Both staff were really nice, no worries about that, but you have to feel sorry for them, sitting almost alone in a dingy cavernous deserted office, with obviously no training. DH notes that of the staff, the only long term one she recognises clearly has a social disability, This is far from intended to mock: DH has social disability in the family as readers of this blog are aware. It raises the question in her mind: is the government exploiting employees with disabilities who may feel that they have to put up with terribly conditions because they have nowhere else to go.
DH may be completely wrong about all her assumptions of course. She is just going on her instincts and the fact that the staff do not seem to understand the byzantine rules of a liberal government that's supposed to be about less bureacracy. Less bureacracy should begin with less red tape, not less workers. Instead the liberals have steadily increased the red tape to bind us all, slashed the workers, and hope it all works out somehow. It doesn't, but what do the MacMansion brigade care? Until it's their turn...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

We're not all billionaire property developers: from reffo to houso in just half a century

DH celebrates 50 years of (ever-diminishing) freedom

Korneuburg Refugee Camp, near Vienna
Spring, 1957

Here's DH and family snapped a short time after absconding from Hungary with just 2 shopping bags containing the family photos and all the clothes they could wear on their backs.

Note in the background, one of the cattle wagons that were such a handy policy tool for disposing of unwanted populations in 20th century Europe.
Hmmm ... cd still work ... wonder how our Federal and State policymakers let this obvious solution slip under their radar?

How differently Australia treated refugees then!

You may be asking, how come DH's family became housos instead of property developers like the rest of their countrymen? They look fit and healthy, why didn't they work harder? Sadly, it's a tale of hidden disability and despair. Suffice it to say that DH's father worked a 6 day week till he dropped, for wages that barely paid for the rent on a 2 bedroom flat and the old bomb that got him to work.

DH's mother's disability made her unemployable, but nobody realised she had a disability. They just thought she chose to be "wierd" and "lazy" and wasn't trying hard enough. The poor bloody woman applied for literally 100's of jobs, and always got knocked back. The poor thing never understood why, or how others saw her. She tried so hard, and the heartbreak was endless. The penny only dropped when DH's daughter was diagnosed with the same hereditary condition. The family's greatest sorrow was that they had not put in for public housing when it was a normal pathway for hard-working migrants to establish themselves.

And, so in old age, DH's parents found themselves regularly being forced to pack at short notice, shunted around at the whim of landlords and property speculators.

DH's father, one of the best of men, loving, generous, hard-working, devoted, and with a wicked sense of humour that DH can only dream of emulating, died at 69, overwhelmed by grief at a lifetime of hard labour that left the family with nothing.

DH's passion for housing justice springs from this legacy.

And as a reffo, DH is old enough to recall a time and a place when the possession of a slip of rubber-stamped paper could mean life or death. Tha'ts why she worries about incursions on our civil liberties with increasing surveillance from the ominously named Centrelink.

Watch out Australia.

When it comes to freedom from tyranny, you were on a good thing.

Don't blow it!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bad News (un)Limited

Murdoch gets the prize. A stake in the only half-way decent news source we have, the SMH. DH recommends that in future, since all the news we'll have is bad news, come straight to her.

And oy, does she have bad news for you today! Centrelink didnt pay her this fortnight (she got her dates mixed up).


Bank balance: $16 DR
Bank dishonour fee: $35

And this is only the beginning of the fortnight.
There won't be another pay till Wednesday week!

DH is in meltdown!

How much canned tuna, corn and beetroot can she eat,
which is the kind of fare you get from our charities
And beside's she's a NESBie and doesn't like Vegemite

Danger! Vegemite!

John Howard (emerging unexpectedly from the linen cupboard, as he does): Shut up and eat your vegemite, or it's Christmas Island for you.

DH (wailing): But why? What's the charge?

John Howard
Un-Australian, mateship-denying FoodChoices! Take her away! (Jogs off)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Baby rent payers

DH had thought she had heard it all. But here's a new one.
At a forum organised by the Greens in Glebe last Saturday, she heard from a woman whose daughter had been hit with rental arrears for her new baby backdated to his birthdate. Just when you need more money for all your new needs.
Maybe Peter Costello, who asked us to have one more for our country, could think about the country reimbursing a fraction of the costs of our contribution, at least till they're old enough to be cannon fodder for the homeland.
Talking about which, DH viewed a 4 Corners report on our new caring sharing army. DH is not a pacifist, but it is heartbreaking to see such lovely young people training to kill and be killed.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The poster boy for Howard's "Family Values"

Mal Brough is desperately trying to put damage control on this, but here's the picture of Howard's real family values.

The Liberals paint themselves as "Christians" in a cynical grab for the religious right's vote, but they are the very embodiment of Darwinism.

Their every policy single-mindedly promotes the survival of the fittest in the open market, (read, jungle).

And yet the troglodytes of the bible belt, whose analytical capacities don't go beyond stampeding at the crudest symbolism, fall for it every time.

What has Howard done to our beautiful country?


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Quick! Hide the plasma TV! Vinnies pays a visit.

Just kidding. Of course DH doesnt own a plasma TV. But she feels as guilty as if she did. She doesn't look as poor as she is, and you would never guess from a first look at her place that she doesnt own a single item of furniture worth more than $60. The TV is eight years old, and the last time she bought a HiFi was in 1976. But it's amazing what you can do with 2 brightly coloured cushions, and a little Lack, Billy, and Klackbo. (And if you dont know what she's talkin' bout, you're clearly a traitor to Western values).
Why does she feel guilty? Well, she feels so sorry for the poor volunteers of St Vincents who are  being shamelessly exploited by the 3 Scrooges, Howard, Abbott and Costello, These poor people,  in their naivete. imagine that by giving up their precious hours after work, taking time away from their families, and wasting petrol to drive over with some electricity vouchers,  they are doing Christlike service for the poor, when in fact their main service is to make Costello look good on budget night, by doing for free what the Commonwealth Employment Service once did for award pay.
And in turn, people like DH have to play their part, and look suitably miserable, humble, contrite, and grateful.
Once the unemployed had rights. THeir benefits were enough to cover the utilities. Now they must beg.  They know the vouchers are out there, but they must needs open their homes to all comers for the privilege of getting a $30 voucher. (Actually come to think of it electricity is a State matter. You mean, Labor set up this appalling arrangement with the churches???)  
Well, DH;s place looks good and cheerful, and she wouldnt be caught dead in grubby trackie-daks. So she found herself feeling she had to do something to make her visitors feel the trip was worth the effort. And before you knew it, she was whining and carrying on as if she was in the confessional booth, forgive me father, for I spent $12 on the cushions, but the keyboard is not mine, and anyway its broken, and dont be fooled by the speakers, I picked them up at cleanup day, and and and
BTW for the benefit of the downwardly envious, DH does have some part-time work. But most of it will go in Govt clawbacks, and as for the Dept of Housing, she's afraid they'll go into fibrillations when they have to work out her new rent based on a variable hour casual short term contract.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Heart of Chairman John

What a dog's breakfast for us elites. There we were, up bright and early, Chairman Howard's Little Teal and Orange Work Book already filled in, ready to stream off with the begging bowl to earn a few cents towards our daily latte, and what do we find when when we open our favorite paper? That prancing dominatrix, that shameless hussy, Mistress Miranda Divine, strutting over our prone bodies, her stiletto heel grinding our faces in the dirt, giving us all a wide-open view of her brains.

But our Miranda is a versatile lass: not only can she can dish it out and whip the paying customers into a frenzy, she also knows how to crawl on all fours, grovelling before the stern magisterial figure of her Prime Minister. Oh the exquisite pleasure it must have given her to write this:
Unusually for the Prime Minister, he did not speak off the cuff but read a prepared speech typed on 15 cream-coloured A4 pages, with paragraphs scratched out and typos corrected with his own black pen. He wrote the first draft, which was then polished by his economics adviser and speechwriter,
His Own Black Pen! O my Goodness! What a clever Prime Minister! And all his own work too, no doubt, except for just the teensiest bit of help from his speech-writer!
And thank god our PM keeps us mindful still of the perils of the cold war... the spectre once again haunts Australia, the spectre of Knopfles and Santamaria. Note to self. Forget Centrelink appointment today - hide under bed till danger passes!

But oh, Miranda, the unkindest cutlet of all!
The consensus after the dinner of beef carpaccio and roast lamb (no vegans invited) was that the Prime Minister's speech was perhaps his finest ...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Devil house the hindmost:

Some "Newstart", when your family can't afford a flat in any capital city in Oz!

According to the Rental Housing Affordability Bulletin, of the Tenants Union of Victoria, a survey of rental housing conducted last Thursday for job seekers and singles on the minimum wage, found
For job seekers receiving Newstart allowance there are no affordable flats in any capital city anywhere in Australia. Sharing doesn't help, with only three affordable properties available in Melbourne, three in Adelaide and none everywhere else. Two parent, two child families (seeking work) had very scant prospects also, with fewer than 10 properties available in every city except Melbourne, where there were 24. Nothing affordable was available for families in the ACT or Perth.
(adapted from a Press Release from Shadow Minister for Housing, Sen Kim Carr)

And the culprit?
Public Tenant No. 1
... as usual ...
Howard and Co have slashed $3.2 billion out of public housing over 10 years
so devil, or your friendly local slum landlord, take the hindmost!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Jeremiad on a looming breach.

DH has failed to apply for the full 8 jobs this fortnight. She couldn't force herself. She could not satisfy that dour and socially disconnected male deity, the Protestant Suit-God Melocha, and his representative here on earth, that puling, creeping piece of banality-of-minor-evil, John Howard
Here is what she did over the last 2 weeks, and what the life of a real flesh and blood woman and carer looks like, unlike some bloodless unit of production in the mind of some H R Nicholls Society dweeb, to be shunted around like some robot. Try shoehorning this into a desk job, or, here's a good idea, why not make DH stand at the checkout at Woolies for a 6 hour shift to redeem her debt to society. How about it? Is what follows not worth $125 a week?
7 amateur musical performances over the weekends, bake cakes as gift to cast members, bump out the production, sleep off the accumulated exhaustion, coping with post-production blues, of self and especially daughter, struggling with her own conscience to defend a disabled person with a neurological disorder from hell from the bullying of her exasperated fellow cast members, risk being tarred with the same brush, have mixed results, feel like a failure, deal with the emotional fallout and depression, spend several hours on the phone dissecting the micro-economics of bullying and power with other mothers within the disability community, doing after all women's "work" of binding community together in a network of talk and analysis, accompanying friend who has just discovered newborn daughter has a neurological disorder to Westmead to hear the prognosis, support her through the emotional fallout of that, attend the final day of a course on computer graphics, and spend another day practising her new skills lest she forget them, doing 2 hours paid work, and spending 7 unpaid hours brushing up her skills to do it, , sleeping off a viral infection after weeks of coughing, and aching joints, and no, damned if she's going to go begging to some gate-keeping son of a doctor's mother, to get a certificate, wake several nights weeping over unrequited loves, console herself with some timely advice from Germaine Greer, attend meeting with a social worker trying to help her daughter move out of a life of almost complete isolation, and arrange action plan, accompany daughter on long trip to distant TAFE which has a suitable course for her, attend inaugural meeting of her local community's "Ways and Means" committee, take minutes, babysit and adore new goddaughter, attend community-building workshop run by local council, attend party political meetings, clean the house, tear hair out at inability to create a system that works with all the goddam paperwork (see picture), try and find time for at least one good latte and chatter, visit mother at nursing home, spend 1/2 hour each day on phone to mother, tear hair out at constantly losing keys and glasses and inability ever to find ringing mobile in handbag shell game, wage bitter political battle, and lose, in group she helped found, deal with emotional fallout of that, and of course, exercise, cook, clean, shop, garden, worry about money, including feeling rich on counting up the contents of the silver coin jar, and finding still have $11 left till pension day 5 days hence, which augmented by $25 food voucher, and approx $30 overlimit credit she might will just about get her through, upgrade her resume (a day's work in itself), register with seek.com, apply for several jobs, each of which take at least an hour and more, ring around, do tax returns, build Aussie Mateship social capital by smiling benevolently on trainful of yobbos from Qld come for the NRL grand final and pretending to give a damn about who wins, and of course, working on this blog, which is DH's work of art after all, and attempt to speak for other sole parent housos who are struggling to have some kind of a life with their kids, and stay afloat under the punitive depredations of Howard and co's "Workchoices" which are no choices at all.
What more can they ask of any human being?