AtWork Refuse to Transfer or Process Complaints – Letter from an Unemployed Worker


I am waiting to hear back about my request to transfer away from my current Disability Employment Services Providers. I submitted three different transfer requests to various agencies via the mutual consent forms filled out by myself and my current provider at an appointment roughly 2-3 weeks ago.

I have tried calling 1800 805 260 but it seems the line is closed after 3pm, and not open before 9am, or the call is simply blocked from going through on the occasions I have tried to call.

Because, when I completed the transfer forms I was in an appointment with my provider, I did not feel able to describe my reasons for requesting transfer aside from “relationship breakdown”. There are numerous reasons, resulting in an overall inability to be serviced by my current provider.

1. They have not responded to my written complaints/feedback at all, or even acknowledged them.

2. In the short time I have been with AtWork, they have changed my case manager at least five or six times. They included: Karen, Fleur, Lisi, Claire, Laura?, and others whose names I don’t recall (n o business cards or direct lines to case managers were ever given to me despite my requests). OFTEN, appointments were cancelled without notice and I when I turned up I had to be seen by someone else totally new to me, and who didn’t appear to know anything about me either. This has made it impossible to develop a relationship or rapport with a case manager and each time I feel like I’m making some progress, I have to start all over again with someone new.

3. With my previous job provider MAX Employment, I had the same case managers for years and felt like my unique challenges were being understood, and I was being helped.

4. None of my case managers with AtWork displayed ANY interest in my disability or my vulnerabilities, with the exception of one case worker – Lisi – who I gave positive feedback about to AtWork. Unfortunately Lisi is no longer employed there.

5. The last appointment I had with AtWork was, in my opinion, emotional abuse. I was told that I do not have a disability, because if I did I would be on the Disability Support Pension. The disinterest, and blatant disregard for my disability, by my DISABILITY Employment Services Provider, has left me feeling despondent, disengaged, and even suicidal. I will never be able to work with this provider again, and I refuse to return to the place that now consumes me with anxiety.

6. During my last ESAT (?), the health professional noted that I have significant functional impairments, and encouraged me to pursue my goal of self-employment from a modified home-based work environment whether my DSP claim was successful or not. This health professional recommended that I transfer to a job provider who specialises in mental health disabilities, and who would be able to help me return to work from a home based business, should my DSP claim be rejected (which it ultimately was). This health professional said the new provider would be instructed to help me with this specific employment pathway, and I would be able to apply for the NEIS program even with a disability affecting my work capacity.

7. AtWork began forcing me to apply for a seemingly arbitrary number of jobs per month, even though I tried to make clear that my disability prevents me from being a serious applicant for pretty much any job, and I have NEVER had this requirement before, despite being engaged with Disability Employment Services Providers for roughly six years, and I felt very uncomfortable applying for jobs that I knew I couldn’t do, and knew would be wasting the time of the employer. The fact that I have never been made to do this job search activity before with my previous DES providers, is likely because they understood the nature of my disability (or perhaps Centrelink instructed them to exempt me, I really have no idea).

8. I applied for the NEIS program myself and completed the pre-NEIS Cert III Micro Business Operations training course in September. AtWork forced me to attend appointments even though I was doing a full-time training course through a Centrelink program.

9. After completing the training course my case manager at the time (Fleur) told me “we might have to think of something else you can do because you don’t seem really passionate about it”. This was in stark contrast to the really amazing NEIS trainers who were very excited about my business idea, and had nothing but praise for my demonstrated work. I got the distinct feeling that AtWork were just trying to keep me in their system, discourage me, and get as many appointments out of me as possible, so they get paid.

10. AtWork refused to pay for any of the training courses, classes, or professional development that I wanted to do to better help me return to work. They tried to get me to do courses with their affiliate RTOs that were not related to my employment efforts and that I expressed no interest in doing.

I really do hope that these reasons are enough to switch me back to my old provider MAX Employment, because there’s a very real possibility that I will end up in far worse health, and with far worse employment prospects if I am forced to stay with AtWork against my will.

Thankyou for your time,