Author Archives: AUWU

Justice For Josh National Day of Action This Thursday!

This is the grave of Josh Park-Fing. 

In 2016, Josh was forced ride on the back of a flat bed trailer being pulled by a tractor without a harness. He fell off, hit his head, and died.

Next Thursday (19th of April) will mark two years since Josh tragically died at his Work for the Dole site in Toowoomba.
In collaboration with Josh’s father Iain, the AUWU are holding events in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane demanding the government finally release the report into Josh’s death and shut down this dangerous and punitive program.

Please join us and help us send a clear message to the Coalition that we will not accept more Australians being forced to work for nothing at dangerous work sites.

RSVP for Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane events below:

 
– Justice4Josh Melbourne –
 
3pm-7pm, Unitarian Peace Church , 110 Grey Street East Melbourne
 
Speakers include: Adam Bandt (Greens), Simeone Casey (Jobs Australia), Maddy Sutton (Turner Freeman Lawyers), Panel of Work for the Dole participants.
 
– Justice4Josh Sydney –
 
1pm-3pm, Martin Place, Sydney CBD
 
Speakers include: Ed Husic (ALP), Lee Rhiannon (Greens), Open Mike of Unemployed Workers
 
 
– Justice4Josh Brisbane –
 
2pm-3:30pm, Victoria Park, 545 Gregory Terrace, Spring Hill
 
 
Brisbane Rally will be presenting this petition to Grace Grace. See petition here

Justice For Josh Event: Memorial and Public Forum

On the 19th of April 2016, 18 year-old Josh Park Fing tragically died at his government-approved Work for the Dole site in Toowoomba. Josh was forced to rise on the back of a flat bed trailer without a harness. Josh fell off and died.

After Josh’s death, Minister of Employment Michaelia Cash promised to conduct an investigation and to publish a report within a month. Two years on and the Park-Fing family, Josh’s friends and the general public are still waiting for answers.

This year marks twenty years since Work for the Dole was first rolled out by the Howard government. As a society, we need to urgently reevaluate our commitment to Work for the Dole and ask the question – is this the way we want to treat our unemployed citizens?

Come along to this Forum to hear from politicians, legal experts, welfare sector representatives, job agencies and of course unemployed workers to learn more about Work for the Dole.

AUWU’s work for the dole survey results will also be released. If you have participated in WFTD, fill out our survey here.

Speakers Include:

Adam Bandt MP: Employment and Industrial Relations Spokesperson, The Greens
Mike Nelson: Occupational, Heath and Safety Expert
Micheal Smart: Work for the Dole Participant

Many more to be announced.

Prices

Unwaged: Free
Waged: $10
Solidarity: $20

All tickets sold at the door.

RSVP below.

 

Dodgy Text Message from Providers. Ignore it!

Have you received this text message from you job agency?

A number of our members have reported they received it recently. We got advice about what it could be referring to and at the time of writing there is no scheduled change to come in at that time.

It seems that the job agencies are using this text message to bully people into accepting unfair job plans.

We encourage all members to report this behaviour to the department by calling the customer service line on 1800 805 260

 

 

Dial Dan Campaign Launched!

In 2016, there were over 53 million failed calls to Centrelink. The Centrelink Newstart line is engaged most of the day, which means it is almost impossible for unemployed workers to contact Centrelink to report their income, resolve a suspension, report a change in circumstance of simple ask a question.

This is outrageous. It is a clear indication of this government’s approach to the unemployed: they do not want to hear what we have to say.

As part of our Dial Dan campaign, we are encouraging everyone who can’t get through to Centrelink to call the office of the Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan to ask what his office is doing about this crisis and to transfer you through.

If enough of us call the office, the government might start to actually address this problem.

Mr. Tehan’s number is 1300 131 692.

The AUWU have also released a petition asking for Mr. Tehan to introduce an adequately staffed free call Centrelink number that offers calls backs to people in the queue. Other departments do this, so why can’t Centrelink? Please sign here.

Join our campaign for a contactable centrelink! Please share this campaign throughout your networks.

Fighting Back

My job agency cut me off Newstart because I did not enter into a job plan – a outrageous penalty considering I was not even presented with a job plan in my appointment. My payment was delayed my almost a week because of this.

Complaint

On the 22nd of January I lodged an official complaint with the Department of Employment Customer Service Line (reference number 462 111).

My complaint covered Wesley Mission’s:

  1. failure to present me with a job plan to sign;
  2. demand I attend a weekly appointment despite job plan saying monthly;
  3. insistence that I would have to transfer if I refused and;
  4. bullying approach towards me

The Department of Employment Customer Service Line informed me that “my job agency can negotiate with me to attend as many appointments as required”.

When I questioned how the government could give job agencies such power over unemployed workers, the staff member said it was up to unemployed workers to negotiate with agencies. I told them I was told I could not negotiate, and the staff member acknowledged this was wrong. But at the same time, the staff member acknowledged that “the harder you push, the harder they are going push against it” and said I may need to go to Centrelink to get my personal circumstances recognised.

The Department escalated my complaint and said my job agency will be required to discuss it with me at my next appointment

Centrelink Participations Team

A few days after I made this complaint, I received a letter from my job agency stating I have to attend an appointment only one week after my previous appointment. This was a clear breach of my job plan which states I am required to attend monthly appointments.

I did not attend the appointment, and I got cut of my Newstart for the second time in a few days.  I contacted the Centrelink Participations Team (Reference number: 172 988) to resolve the issue.

I informed the Participations team that my job agency was unfairly forcing me to attend weekly appointments despite my current job plan says I am required to attend monthly appointments.I asked Centrelink to put me back on the payment given that I should have never been made to attend a weekly appointment. I was informed by the staff member that they “can’t” and that I needed to go back to my job agency to resolve this issue.

I reminded them that under social security law, “Employment services providers do not make compliance decisions under social security law. Providers report non-compliance to DHS, for DHS to make compliance penalty decisions.” The staff member, Penny disagreed. She said that “Centrelink do not make all compliance decisions. Employment services make some and Centrelink make some”. I once again read out the social security law, saying that Centrelink has the power to make all compliance decisions and that, by law, Centrelink is obligated to look into each penalty and impose the correct decision.

Penny disagreed and became defensive, reminding me of my obligation to “look for work”. I asked to speak to Penny’s supervisor.

After explaining my situation, the supervisor informed me that I need to go back to my job agency to resolve the issue.He backed up Penny saying that Centrelink are not able to put me back on the payment. He also informed me that Centrelink do not make all compliance decisions – according to him its a “shared responsibility”. I read out the social security law again, and once again, the staff member got defensive and reminded my of my obligations to “look for work”.

I was shocked. Both members of staff were failing to uphold social security law. I had been on the phone for 3 hours. I had no choice but to go back to my job agency.

Job Agency

I called Wesley Mission and organised a “re-engagement” appointment for the 31st of January.

At the appointment I once again had a new case manager. She informed me that the Department of Employment had contacted them about my complaint. She acknowledged that I wasn’t treated the way I should have been. That was all she said about it.

She told me that I need to sign a new job plan. She said she was prepared to negotiate regarding the frequency of appointments. She said she “couldn’t” do monthly appointments but suggested an appointment every three weeks. I accepted and signed the new job plan.

My job agent also informed me that I would have to do Work for the Dole soon. I told her that I would like to do voluntary activity at the National Union of Workers again, like I have done previously. She informed me that: “Last time it didn’t get you a job so I won’t be accepting it this time. You haven’t work for a while so WFTD will be helpful for you to get you into employment”.

Once again my job agency was refusing me my right to negotiate a fair job plan. This would mean yet another fight.

Complaint to Centrelink

On the 14th of February, I made a complaint to Centrelink about the incorrect information I was given on the Centrelink Participations Line. I informed them that I was deeply concerned that two staff members were failing to uphold an crucial component of social security law. I requested that the phone line be investigated.

My complaint was processed and escalated and I was told I would be contacted by Centrelink in 10 business days.