Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Entrapment; or, Come and see this property, said the spider to the fly...

DH has a friend with 2 disabled boys in a 2 bedroom D'oH unit.
She has been sleeping in the lounge room for 5 years, and has been on a priority list for rehousing within the same area for 7 years.
She lives in an area with some notorious DoH badlands, and she is afraid to go there, especially with her 2 very vulnerable boys. She has made clear that she wants to stay in her immediate locality.
This has never been questioned by the Dept.
Recently the department has contacted her, saying, "Look, there is nothing much in this area, why not come and have a look at Badlands Ave. We promise you won't be under any obligation". Reluctantly she agreed. But when she turned up and saw the teen gang smoking outside the front door of the dilapidated estate, she refused to go in.
Next week, she gets another offer in the same area. She explains again that she has been promised she is not under obligation to go out of area, and declines.
Next step. You guessed it. She gets a letter saying that as she has refused 2 offers, she will be knocked off the rehousing list and has to go to the end of the queue, unless she has a medical certificate...
Well, DH hears you say, "Tough. We're all doing it tough. She should be grateful she has a roof over her head at all."
And that is the attitude we had to have after 10 years of John Howard. This is the Australia that we had to have, according to Public Tenant No 1, John Howard, who has robbed to poor to give to the rich. Example du jour. transferring public moneys to private landlords via the Rental Assistance scheme/
The story gets worse, but its too damn complex for DH to find the time, and she's just plain disspirited...

Monday, November 27, 2006

DH undergoes Work Capacity Testing

Q: Why is DH taking the trouble to write this lengthy blow-by-blow?
A1: Her biggest ambition in life is to be a footnote in a Social History of the Noughties, detailing the decline of the Welfare State
A2: She is quite possibly permanently mentally ill, and should immediately be certified by her Work Capacity Tester as only required to seek 15 hrs a week employment.

The Story So Far
The story so far: When DH first signed up for Newstart, the nice young girl (NYG) at her appointment, thinking to make her life easier, marked her down for a "Work Capacity Test", based on knowing that DH was under carer's stress.
But the NYG either didn't realise the implications of this within the byzantine social security process, or didn't think to explain this to DH. She didnt even tell DH she had marked her down. This led to great fun and games later, and managed to confuse a whole generation of poorly trained C'link counter staff further down the track. See September 2006.
Basically, since the NYG had earmarked her for a WTC, the computer system did not automatically cough up a Job Network Referral. Without a Job Network referral, DH cd not get any job assistance, and also there was confusion about her payments. But the poorly trained CSO' cd not figure out what had gone wrong, thus delaying her payments.

So get to the point already!!!
After 4 months, the Big Day finally arrived.
DH showed up nervously clutching .... nothing ... , as she had not been told in the letter to bring any documentation. Thus began the CentreLink Bungle du Jour.
She had actually visited her GP the day before, because she had been told by C'link counter staff, that she needed a medical certificate which all GP's were required to have, and her GP would know what it was.
OF COURSE, you all guessed it. Her GP had no idea....
Well, so there's DH, and as soon as she walks in, ready to eye the psychologist at the independant assessment service as a potential scab, lackey, class traitor, running dog of Welfare-to-Work
But the assessor is only another NYG (Nice Young Girl) doing Howard's punitive protestant ethic dirty work for him.
So anyhow DH is struggling to control her emotions, but straight way she gets thrust at her a form which asks her for her permission to hand out all  the sensitive details of all her health problems to about 7 or 8 government departments.
"And what if I refuse", she asks, "I suppose I can do without any pension at all?".
DH gets it in one, so she knuckles down and signs, trying not to take out her vexation on the poor innocent NYG.
Anyhow, DH now gripes copiously and at length about all her health issues, which frankly is quite a pleasure, as she has come to an age where her only pleasure in life is complaining about her aches and pains.
So anyway, time comes for the NYG to make her recommendations.
But guess what? Since DH did not bring documentation, because her letter of appointment failed to tell her that she had to, the NYG couldnt make a recommendation!!!!!
Now whether the NYG would have thought to tell DH what the system was if she hadnt asked, we'll never know.
But here it is in all it's glory...
Wait for it....

Can you believe it? Work Capacity Test

Here are the 3 recommendations possible from Centrelink's Work Capacity Test
  1. The client has a permanent disability* and is required to find 15+ hrs work per week

    * The condition is diagnosed, controlled, and does not require further medical intervention.

  2. The client has a temporary disability* and is required to find 30+ hrs work per week

    * The condition is not controlled etc and requires further medical intervention

  3. Other*
    *This means the client did not bring a medical certificate because the letter of appointment didn't tell them to, thus the whole system is stalled....
Why is a person with an uncontrolled condition required to work full time??? The answer is that with a medical certificate they can get time off!
Perhaps this explains why the 16 year old boy who was dying of cancer was required to seek full-time work, as clearly his condition was only temporary? See The poster boy for Howard's "Family Values" (October)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Minister still silent

Tenants are still waiting with bated breath to find out from the Minister how it is fair to halt the proceedings of an independant selection committee before all the shortlisted candidates had been interviewed, and why to this day, some of the applicants have not been contacted with either an apology or explanation, for having had their time, enthusiasm and energy wasted.

Citizen rubber stamps, please witness this,

D'oH does not give out reference numbers for phone transactions.

Tenants have been burned when they have reported income, the record goes missing, and it looks for all the world like they are trying to cheat.

DH has had a week's casual income. She rang up to report this, and was told that the Department doesnt worry if it's just a week here or there.

DH thinks this is great as she is sure the administrative overhead of collecting a week's rent would exceed whatever extra rent the department would get.

However, on past experience with government departments, which clearly do not invest much in training their overstretched staff, DH has had too many experiences of different staff giving completely different rulings, and she doesn't want to get into trouble.

So please note that on Thursday the 23rd Nov 2006, DH rang the Department of Housing to notify them of a week's casual work and that she was told not to worry, unless it became regular work.

If you feel like being a Citizen Rubber Stamp, send her a receipt and drop her a line at desperate.houso@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

TACky Ministerial silence while rumours abound

[Rumour alert! This post is a compendium of old and new rumours floating around in the absence of any statements from the Minister.]

If half of them are true, Cherie Burton might need some training in Management, HR and Ethics. And possibly some therapy to raise her EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quota). But perhaps she's not fully recovered from the trauma of being torn away at a tender age from the public housing home she loved by an untimely lottery win. (Or so rumour has it)

DH has heard from a usually reliable source that the Minister sees no problem with the interview process for the Tenant's Advisory Council because the last interviews "weren't required", and none of the short-listed candidates would be disadvantaged. Tell this to at least one poor woman who was reputedly in tears, having prepared for the interview, and been expecting to show her stuff. Not exactly conducive to raising the self-esteem of tenants who are already ground down enough.

DH is quite happy to accept that so far all this is pure rumour. But wouldn't you think that a Minister with even a shred of nous or character would at the very least write a personal letter of explanation or apology to the tenants concerned? Without any explanation forthcoming, is it any wonder that the logical conclusion amongst tenants is that corruption must be the explanation, with a minister attempting to foist her own choice onto an independant, competent, and principled committee.

Or is it that the Minister is plain incompetent ... if it's true that she is presiding over a sell-off at Miller's Point at 1/3 of market value?

And finally Cherie Burton's silence and lack of explanation has made it impossible for any tenant of integrity to accept a post on TAC, as tenants will draw their their own conclusions about anyone who does accept.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

TACky Ministerial intervention

Tenants' circles have been buzzing with the news that the Housing Minister suddenly aborted the selection process for a 6 member Tenants' Advisory Council midway through the proceedings. The TAC was intended to replace a much larger tenants' representative body, the Public Housing Customer Council, which was itself summarily dismissed for reasons that have never been made clear.

Yesterday's Question on Notice from the Greens' excellent Senator Sylvia Hale may shed some light on potentially murky waters. Apart from the implications of a Minister undermining due process, what about the poor souls who spent days writing up their applications, and worse, those who after all their efforts, never even got interviewed, thus being placed at a disadvantage cf those who had a chance to make an impression. Not to mention people who for all we will ever know sacrificed their time to be there. DH has heard of one applicant who was in tears of disappointment.

Ms SYLVIA HALE: I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister the Housing. Is it the case that the Minister for Housing recently set up a selection panel to receive applications, then to shortlist and interview tenants for a tenant advisory committee? Is it the case that, in the last month, the Minister instructed the selection panel to accept an application, which had not been submitted in the proper manner, and implied that this applicant should be appointed? Is it the case that, when the panel declined, the Minister dismissed the panel and has herself taken over the process of appointing tenants to the advisory committee? Will the Minister table the recent email sent from the Minister for Housing to Department of Housing staff telling them about the change in procedure for appointing the tenant advisory committee

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Free-range psychiatric hospitals: the future of public housing?

If public housing estates become concentrators of people with mental illness/ dual diagnoses, won't the result be free-range psych hospitals minus facilities? We'd better hope that the Housing and Human Services Accord, which is intended to underpin "Reshaping Public Housing" by guaranteeing that housing estates are supplied with appropriate services for people with high support needs, otherwise the remaining able-bodied/minded tenants will find themselves being defacto psych nurses. Hmm - cd be a career path there for single mother carers of disabled kids, who DH suspects may be the major remnant of the able-bodied on our estates. Wd be ideal, as this is a cohort that are already used to carrying the world on their shoulders for peanuts.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Centrelink Raiders

You know how John Howard has taken to popping out unexpectedly from DH's linen closet in the hope of catching her out in Un-Australian activities?

You know how "he likes to watch", via the All-Seeing Eye of Centrelink?

Isn't all this, plus the delights of Janet, plus the mistress that the Canberra press gallery all swear (off-record) th
at our "Prime Exemplar of Family Values" is keeping down in our nation's capital, (oh, can you imagine the disciplines this reputedly Senior Bureaucrat subjects our leader to in his leisure moments! Well, someone must be teaching him how to grovel so exquisitely before the Bush), ... so, anyway, isn't all this enough for our saucy PM???

It seems Chairman John no longer gets off on these simple pleasures, and now requires ever greater levels of titillation. Apparently now nothing less than catching the lower orders out, in flagrante delicto, will do. To this end, the Leader now wants to deploy flying squads of Centrelink Bristows to raid the homes of Centrelink beneficiaries. They hope to photograph illicit toothbrushes cohabiting, take DNA samples of mattress stains, examine the contents of laundry baskets, and catch opposite sexes out in the act of making eye contact.

And all on the offchance of saving "The Taxpayer" $130 a week.

Gee whiz, what other forms of entertainment are left to people living off $50 per week after rent, supplemented by a few EPA vouchers and tinned corn and beetroot from the Salvos? Not much left in the entertainment budget after that.

Bush whacked!

This is the sweetest news of all. And what a coincidence that today of all days the Libs finally start to get a conscience about that poor misguided little bugger David Hicks.

But the sweetest thing of all would be to see John Howard exeunt with his tail between his legs, hard on the heel of his master.