Category Archives: Announcements

Call For Volunteers

The Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union is currently looking for a number of volunteers to occupy pivotal roles within the national union structure. Applicants will be required to attend interviews, either in person if in Melbourne or on the phone.

Please send through all expressions of interest to contact@unemployedworkersunion.com

The briefs for the vacant positions are as follows:

  • Secretary (Melbourne Branch)

Summary: The Secretary is the beating heart of the Melbourne branch. In addition to occupying a position on the Melbourne branch executive (the highest decision making body of the branch), the Secretary is responsible for organising and structuring union administration.

Job Description: The Secretary is responsible for

(i) Keeping minutes for meetings
(ii) Creating agendas
(iii) Overseeing union correspondence
(iv) Contributing to union’s community Organising and engagement
(iv) Liaising with members and community groups
(v)  Help develop campaigns and strategies through exectutive

Required Skills: Friendly, methodical, moderate IT skills (Gmail, Google Drive, Action Network), eexcellent organisational skills, administration experience, team player

Required Commitment: Two days per week voluntary activity

  • Branch Coordinator

Summary: The Branch Coordinator is responsible for overseeing the establishment and organisation of AUWU branches across Australia. Consequently, the Branch Coordinator is a central figure in building union power and empowering unemployed workers across Australia.

Job Description: The Branch Coordinator is responsible for

(i) Responding to emails from prospective and established AUWU branches
(ii) Building networks across AUWU branches
(iii) Community organising and engagement
(iv) Liaising with members and community groups
(v) Helping to develop campaigns and strategies
(vi) Activist development
(vii) Event management
Required Skills: Excellent communication skills, excellent organisational and logistics skills, excellent relationship building skills, administration experience.
Required Commitment:  Two days per week voluntary activity

  • Communications Working Group Volunteers

Summary: The AUWU is currently organising a Communications Working Group. This group will be responsible for creating artwork, leaflets, posters, and any other printed material, as well as managing our online content, and social media accounts. Ideally, Comms members will be in regular communication.

We’d love to hear from anyone who can help us with:

  • graphic design (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop etc.)
  • drawing and illustration (traditional or digital media)
  • web design and development (html, CSS, JS, PHP etc.)
  • filming, video editing
  • TV, radio and public relations experience,
  • social media management (facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.)
  • research, writing (media releases, news articles, blogs), copy-editing

 

 

 

Dignity NOT Debt: RALLY to End Centrelink Debt Debacle Press Release

PRESS RELEASE

Dignity NOT Debt

RALLY to End Centrelink Debt Debacle

Abolition of the Centrelink Debt Recovery Scheme” is the central demand of a rally being organised by the Australian Unemployed Workers Union on Tuesday 31 January, 12.30pm at the State Library in Melbourne.

President of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union, Owen Bennett, said that “The Turnbull Government’s automated debt recovery system has sent around one-quarter of a million debt notices to social security recipients. Up to 90% of these notices are are estimated to be incorrect.

Centrelink staff have been instructed that they are not allowed to fix obvious errors in the debt notices, unless the recipient of the debt notice makes a formal complaint.

Some people who are now working full-time have just paid back the debts even though they are incorrect because of the difficulties of getting through to Centrelink to make a formal complaint. Others feel intimidated or bullied into accepting the debt notices, even though they are incorrect.

Up to 90% of the debt notices which have been reviewed randomly have been found to be incorrect. The consequences of these notices is horrific and could result in an increase in attempted suicides and people losing their housing because they can’t afford the rent or mortgage,

Up to 90% of the debt notices which have been reviewed randomly have been found to be incorrect. The consequences of these notices is horrific and could result in an increase in attempted suicides and people losing their housing because they can’t afford the rent or mortgage. Some of our members are facing jail time for debts they may not even owe.

“This system is a shameless continuation of the Coalition’s mission to criminalise social security recipients and dismantle the social security system as a whole. The Dignity Not Debt movement is committed to fighting Turnbull’s punitive approach every step of the way” said Bennett.

The ‘Dignity Not Debt: End Centrelink Debt Debacle’ rally has received broad endorsement, including from organisations like the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Fair Go for Pensioners, Council of Single Mothers and their Children and the Homeless Persons Union. The endorsement list indicates that the Centrelink debt notices are hitting a broad range of groups in the community.

Details of the rally are:

Tuesday 31 January, 12.30

State Library, corner Swanston St and La Trobe St, Melbourne CBD
The rally will then march to the Liberal Party headquarters in Exhibition Street.

Speakers will include: Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale, Freedom from Poverty founder Duncan Storrar and NUS Education Officer Anneke Demanuele. Others include First Nations community leader Meriki Onus, Australian Unemployed Workers Union President Owen Bennett, Zach Brady from Centrelink Class Action and Sue Bolton from Socialist Alliance and Moreland councillor.

For Media comment:

Owen Bennett / contact@unemployedworkersunion.com

AUWU BLOG: GRAFT, GREED AND ‘BUDGET REPAIR’

The first of a series of AUWU articles on government graft and corruption as it relates to welfare and work in Australia

By Brenton Thomas, AUWU Member

While the government is defending its latest debacle in the name of budget repair its worth remembering the billions of dollars of graft that friends and families from both sides of politics have pocketed over the last twenty years courtesy of the government’s privatisation of employment services and education.

Graft is the adding on to the cost for something not needed.  It is payment for unnecessary items.  In the construction industry, it is paying for Soprano style labourers who sit around doing nothing.   It is payment for ten tons of concrete on a job that only needs one.   In the governments employment services industry it is paying from the public purse for companies that do nothing.

The rort is fairly simple and has changed little over a series of contracts over the years. When you become unemployed the government will require you to register with a private Job Services Agency that will be paid when you find work or enter training – regardless of whether they found the job for you or not.

They will use the lowest paid staff they can get away with who will diligently tick boxes, generate evidence of activity and invoice the government.  It’s a simple license to print money that feeds off the normal background churn of people moving in and out of jobs.

The beneficiaries of this rort look like a who’s who of Australia’s elite.  Sarina Russo the ‘Successful Business Woman’ that Sussan Ley was caught out visiting on the taxpayers dime.  Teresa Rein wife of former Prime Minster Kevin Rudd and founder and managing director of the employment services and training company Ingeus.  David Gonski author of the Gonski report also with Ingeus as chairman.

Not to be outdone by the A-list elites we can add in former public servants who presumably weren’t hired because of their knowledge of the private sector. Darren Hooper from US based Max Employment, formerly of the Department of Employment and the Department of the Prime Minister whose contacts with government awards Max employment the dubious honour of managing to get the Department of Employment to overlook significant allegations of fraud and be granted the lions’ share of the new deed.

Not content with money for nothing, the use of punitive employment policies together with VET-FEE Help take milking the public purse to levels of a fine art.  The longer you are unemployed the more onerous the demands on you will become until you are in their offices every day of the week applying for Jobs that aren’t there on pain of losing your benefit if you don’t comply.  You will be bullied, harassed and lied to systemically.

To escape punishment of course you can do a training course – which will be paid for by the VET-FEE budget and if your agency is affiliated with a training company they will now start earning big dollars.

This is against both the letter and the principal of the Law and Deed and occurs with full knowledge of the Department of Employment.  You though are signed on with a private company and as such are outside the protection of both the Ombudsman’s Office and Administrative Affairs Tribunal.  To seek remedy, you need to sue – but you are unemployed so can’t afford that and the government has cut the funding to the Community Legal services just in case you thought you had any rights at all.

Feeling powerless, disenfranchised, cheated, abused and sick and tired of greedy politicians and self-appointed elites?  The first thing you can do is make noise. Take some lessons from the Greens and the Indigenous groups.  Get involved. Join groups such as the Australian Unemployed Workers Union, various facebook groups. Every time someone in Canberra does anything you don’t like make sure a hundred other people hear you.

You have a legal right to complain.  So lodge complaints. When they don’t respond to your complaint lodge a complaint about the lack of response to the complaint you just lodged.  Make life as miserable for the bastards as they make yours.

Demand a full time independent Federal ICAC.

Above all the most powerful thing you can do is use your vote – with a twist.

If you are happy with the political system then vote for your local representative no matter what party they belong to.  If you are dissatisfied, then vote against the sitting representative. Ignore the political party even if that means you vote against your traditional vote. The objective is to disrupt the process. To send a great big Trumpian middle finger in the direction of Canberra.

Out!
Out!
Out of the house!
Vote the Bastards Out!

AUWU Announces Centrelink Debt Officer

Are you having trouble with a Centrelink debt?

With Centrelink sending out 20,000 debt notices per week – some completely erroneously – it is important to get information about your rights before you respond to Centrelink.

The AUWU is now offering the services of our specialised Centrelink Debt Officer, who will be happy to give you advice, via email, about how to respond to your debt letter.

Please send the details of your debt to centrelinkdebtofficer@unemployedworkersunion.com and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Advice is open to members only. Membership is free and open to everyone. (Click the “Get Involved” button to become a member of the AUWU.)

Please remember, this is not legal advice and you should use your own discretion when deciding what to do about your debt.

Read more about how to fight back, and online campaigns here.

If you require legal advice, please contact your local welfare rights centre.

AUWU Blog – We want facts not fabrication, Mr Turnbull

by Valerie Farfalla, Vice president AUWU

‘Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.’
Aldous Huxley

Yet the Coalition government continues to ignore facts by fabricating stories about hundreds of thousands of dole bludgers skipping job interviews and failing to accept jobs. But where is the evidence? Facts are that in 2015, only 589 unemployed workers were financially penalised for refusing work. The tabloid press laps up the lies about ‘welfare cheats’ who are ‘rorting the system’and ‘becoming fat and lazy on the public purse’ – on $250 a week. This type of demonisation of unemployed workers has appeared in Australian tabloid newspapers around Christmas time for the past few years. Why? A slow news day? Or Government propaganda? To quote Huxley again: ‘The propagandists’ purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human’.

According to a recent article in Brisbane’s Courier-Mail, ‘every week, some 20,000 ‘compliance interventions’ are coming to light, a startling increase from 20,000 a year before the introduction of the new automated Centrelink debt collection system which links personal data to Australian Taxation Office data. The Government hopes to recoup $4 billion from the debt recovery program.

So let’s get this straight with some factual information.

Centrelink’s automated system is in gross disrepair, generating debt notices in error. Over Christmas the AUWU heard of dozens of complaints from welfare recipients sent debt notices from six years ago and asked to produce payslips to contest ‘online’ the alleged debt, which in one case was more than $10,000. Centrelink has no evidence or written record of the alleged debts but its Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transportation (WPIT) system has delivered a large batch of incorrect data matches with the ATO and the recipients are apparently guilty until proven innocent.
Some outraged politicians and welfare groups have called on Centrelink to suspend the compliance system.

I was in a Centrelink office this morning but there were few staff to attend the queues. ‘Sorry, just drop in your papers. There’s no Medicare officer or Financial officer today. We’re going on strike for two days starting tomorrow,’ we were told.

After Christmas, many families have lean pickings. Let’s hope they have enough food and rent money to last into January 2017.

 

Successful One-Man Sarina Russo Protest

Centrelink recently informed AUWU supporter Chad Delandre that Sarina Russo are legally obliged to hand over his file documents. The Sarina Russo manager, Peter, refused to hand over the documents.

Chad then conducted a 5 minutes protest by himself out the front of Sarina Russo asking for documents. Within a few minutes of the police arriving, Sarina Russo handed over all the documents.

Below is the video Chad took of his protest. Chad’s comments are below.

 

So i was informed by Centrelink during a appointment today they needed a copy of my participation record from my Job Access provider Sarina Russo Job Access Hervey Bay as it needed to be submitted with my new claim.

My provider just happens to be across the road from local Centrelink office so was no hassle.

Once inside Sarina Russo building was informed could not get my participation record due to know 1 could print out.
I instantly walk to front desk and ask for manager. A man named Peter is Manager at Sarina Russo Job Access Hervey Bay. He also refuzed to give me documentation unless he could read my DSP claim, i refused.

I pleaded my case stating if not submitted to Centrelink by end of day my payments would be cut. Peter stated not he’s issue and unless i was willing to share my private and confidential information on my claim he would not help. I proceeded to inform him i would be back shortly and i was megaphone in hand.

Back round on myself. 29 currently at age of 13 inverted left foot and broke ancle, 19 broke back 2 failed ops a 3rd to fix and at 29 riped knee caps off in motocycle accident. Befor my last accident last yr i was struggling to maintain employment for more than 2 months as nerve damage would get aggravated to point i can not walk. Now as iam getting older and after last accident i struggle to stand/sit/lay for more than a hr if not 10mins but expected to do at least 15hrs work a week. After 10yrs of medical certs and doctor letters to confirm conditions still not unuff proof for DSP????

Why do’s the system ment to help us just destroy us???

I was really suprised my documentation was produced after only 10mins of Police being on scene.

By fighting for his rights, Chad forced his job agency to do what they are legally obliged to do by law. If every unemployed worker followed in Chad’s footsteps, the punitive and dysfunctional employment services industry would have to be cleaned up and investigated.

We can all learn a lot from Chad.

Its Time To Fight Back!

 

New Edition of Unemployed Workers Rights Guide Now Available Online!

Unemployed Workers Rights Booklet November Edition

Fully updated and now including a new section on unemployed workers rights at Disability Employment Services.

To download and view the guide, please click here.

Please send any questions, comments and suggestions to advocacy@unemployedworkersunion.com

Photo on 16-04-2016 at 13.08


National Advocacy Hotline

If the unemployed workers guide does not address your question or concerns, please call us on (03) 8394 5266

Hours of operation: 10am-2pm, Monday-Friday.

Answering machine messages will be responded to within 10 business days.
Alternatively, you can email us for advise at advocacy@unemployedworkersunion.com

The hotline is maintained by a volunteer group of AUWU members.

Income Support Bonus & Other Supplements & Allowances

Sourced from Centrelink’s “A Guide to Australian Government Payments 20 September – 31 December 2016”

Income Support Bonus

  • The Income Support Bonus is a tax-free payment made twice annually to eligible recipients to assist with unexpected costs.
  • Qualifying payments include Newstart Allowance, Sickness Allowance, Youth Allowance, Austudy, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Special Benefit, Parenting Payment Single, Parenting Payment Partnered and Farm Household Allowance.
  • Recipients of an education allowance under the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme are also eligible.
  • To be eligible a person must be under age pension age and qualified for, and in receipt of, a qualifying payment on 20 March and/or 20 September.
  • Eligible recipients are only entitled to one Income Support Bonus payment in each instalment period regardless of how many qualifying payments they receive.
  • The Income Support Bonus payment instalment rates are:
    Single
    $111.70
    Member of a couple
    $93.00
    Member of a couple separated by illness
    $111.70
    Member of a couple partner is in respite care
    $111.70
    Member of a couple partner is in prison
    $111.70
  • The payment will be paid on the earliest day on which it is reasonably practicable after the test days in March and September. The payment will be indexed to Consumer Price Index twice annually, in March and September.

The payments are not separately means-tested.

Recipients of Widow Allowance and Partner Allowance are not eligible. They will continue to be eligible for Utilities Allowance.

The Income Support Bonus is not payable to recipients who are in receipt of Pension Supplement above the Pension Supplement basic amount.

To qualify for the full amount each year, a recipient would need to be qualified for, and in receipt of one of the qualifying payments on both 20 March and 20 September.

Job Commitment Allowance

Note: The Job Commitment Bonus program will cease on 31 December 2016, subject to the repeal of enabling legislation. The program and payments will continue until the repeal date. Individuals who are qualified to claim at the time of the repeal will be able to lodge a claim for the bonus and will have 90 days to do so. Those who would have qualified after the legislative repeal date will no longer be able to lodge a claim for the bonus.

The Job Commitment Bonus is a payment to encourage long-term unemployed young Australians to find and keep work.

There are two Job Commitment Bonus payments.

Basic conditions of eligibility

For the first Job Commitment Bonus payment:

  • you must be aged 18 or over and under 31 years of age when in receipt of Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance as a job seeker, and
  • while aged 18 or over and under 31 years of age have been in receipt of Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance as a job seeker or a combination of both for a continuous period of at least 12 months, and
  • commenced gainful employment in Australia on or after 1 July 2014 for a continuous period of 12 months and not received an income support payment.

For the second Job Commitment Bonus payment:

  • you must be eligible to receive the first Job Commitment Bonus payment, and
  • have completed a further 12 continuous months of gainful employment in Australia and not re-ceived an income support payment.

Continuous work

A period of continuous work will include:

  • taking paid leave
  • taking up to 28 days of unpaid leave in the 12 month period
  • if undertaking more than one job in the 12 month period there can be a break of no more than five business days of unpaid leave between jobs. These days are included in the 28 days of unpaid leave calculation.

Gainful employment

Certain types of employment will not attract a Job Commitment Bonus. These may include employ-ment that:

  • does not involve sufficient financial gain or reward, for example, voluntary employment or em-ployment for less than the National Minimum Wage or Award Wage
  • does not involve substantial and consistent personal exertion, for example selling own goods on eBay or garage sales, or occasional blogging
  • involves domestic or gardening tasks at your or your family member’s place of residence or an investment property owned by yourself or a family member
  • involves caring for or doing domestic tasks for a family member or their foster child, or a person residing at your or your family member’s place of residence, or involves the management of fi-nancial investments in which you or your family member has an interest
  • involves nudity or is in the sex industry
  • contravenes Commonwealth, state or territory legislation, for example, criminal activity
  • is for the purpose of achieving election of yourself to public office
  • is undertaken as part of certain Commonwealth funded programs, for example, the Green Army Programme (in relation to certain participants) and the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme
  • is done for the purpose of an academic, sporting or other scholarship
  • involves payment-in-kind or exchange of services.

Residence requirements

  • Must be an Australian citizen or permanent visa holder.

Basic rates

  • The first Job Commitment Bonus is $2,500 for 12 months of continuous gainful work.
  • The second Job Commitment Bonus is $4,000 for a further 12 months of continuous gainful work.

Income test

  • No income test.

Asset test

  • No asset test.

Pension Supplement

  • A Pension Supplement is added to the regular fortnightly payment made to recipients of Age Pension, Carer Payment, Wife Pension, Widow B Pension, Bereavement Allowance, Disability Support Pension (except if aged under 21 without children) and to certain other income support payment recipients if the person has reached age pension age.
  • The maximum Pension Supplement is currently $65.10 a fortnight for singles and $98.20 a fortnight for couples, combined.
  • The minimum Pension Supplement is an amount below which the Pension Supplement does not fall until income or assets reach a level that would otherwise reduce a total pension including Pension Supplement to nil. The minimum amount is currently $34.90 a fortnight for singles, and $52.80 for couples combined.
  • Pensioners may elect to receive the minimum pension supplement amount on a quarterly basis. Installments will be paid as soon as possible after 20 March, 20 June, 20 September and 20 December each year.
  • The Pension Supplement is paid while the person is in Australia or, if outside Australia, only while the person has the right to continue to be paid their social security payment outside Australia. After an absence of more than six weeks outside Australia, the Pension Supplement is reduced to the Pension Supplement Basic Amount.
  • The Pension Supplement Basic Amount is currently $22.70 a fortnight for singles and $37.40 a fortnight for both members of a couple, combined.
  • Recipients of Parenting Payment (Single) under age pension age have the Pension Supplement Basic Amount added to their regular fortnightly payment.

Telephone Allowance

Telephone Allowance is a quarterly payment to assist with the cost of maintaining a telephone service; it is not paid to assist with the cost of telephone calls.

Telephone Allowance is paid to telephone subscribers who receive the Disability Support Pension and who are aged under 21 years without children and to Parenting Payment (Single) recipients who are under age pension age. Telephone Allowance is also paid to telephone subscribers who receive certain social security allowance payments and are in specific circumstances.

A higher rate of Telephone Allowance is payable to recipients of Disability Support Pension who are aged under 21 years without children if they or their partner have a home internet connection.

The current rate of Telephone Allowance is $112.80 per year ($28.20 per quarter). The higher rate of Telephone Allowance is $168 per year ($42 per quarter) for home internet subscribers. This amount is shared between both members of an eligible couple.

The payment is made in January, March, July and September each year and is adjusted to increases in the Consumer Price Index in September. For most pensioners and other income support recipients who have reached age pension age, the value of Telephone Allowance has been either added into the Pension Supplement or forms part of the rate paid under transitional arrangements.

Utilities Allowance

Utilities Allowance is a quarterly payment to recipients of Widow Allowance and Partner Allowance who are under age pension age, and to Disability Support Pension recipients (under 21 without children) to assist with meeting the cost of utilities bills. The payment is made in March, June, September and December each year and is adjusted to increases in the Consumer Price Index in March and September. The current annual rate is $609.20 for singles and $304.60 for each eligible member of a couple.

For most pensioners and other income support recipients who have reached age pension age, the value of Utilities Allowance has been either added into the Pension Supplement or forms part of the rate paid under transitional arrangements.

Pharmaceutical Allowance

Rate: $6.20 per fortnight for an eligible single person, and $3.10 per fortnight for each eligible member of a couple (i.e. $6.20 in total if both members of a couple are eligible). However, where a person is a member of an illness separated couple or a respite care couple or where a partner is in prison, the rate is $6.20 per fortnight (i.e. same as for a single person).

Note: Pharmaceutical Allowance may be paid for temporary absences until the primary payment ceases, or for up to 26 weeks if the primary payment may be paid indefinitely.

For most pensioners and other income support recipients who have reached age pension age, the value of Pharmaceutical Allowance has either been incorporated into the Pension Supplement or forms part of the rate paid under transitional arrangements.

Conditions under which Pharmaceutical Allowance is paid:

Disability Support Pension
Automatically paid to those under 21 years of age without children
Parenting Payment (Single)
Automatically paid if under age pension age.
Sickness Allowance
Automatically paid.
Newstart Allowance
Must be temporarily incapacitated, or have a partial capacity to work, or be a single principal carer of a dependent child, or be over 60 years of age and have been in receipt of income support continuously for at least nine months.
Partner Allowance
Widow Allowance
Special Benefit*

Must be temporarily incapacitated, or be over 60 years of age and have been in receipt of income support continuously for at least nine months.

*Note: Special Benefit recipients are not required to be Australian residents in order to be paid Pharmaceutical Allowance.

Austudy
Must be over 60 years of age and have been in receipt of income support continuously for at least nine months.
Parenting Payment (Partnered)
Must be over 60 years of age and have been in receipt of income support continuously for at least nine months or be unable to meet participation requirements due to a temporary incapacity.
Sickness Allowance
Automatically paid.
Youth Allowance (job seeker)
Must be either temporarily incapacitated or a single principal carer of a dependent child or have a partial capacity to work.
Youth Allowance (full-time students and Australian Apprentices)
Must be temporarily incapacitated.

Note: Pharmaceutical Allowance may be paid for temporary absences until the primary payment ceases, or for up to 26 weeks if the primary payment may be paid indefinitely.

For most pensioners and other income support recipients who have reached age pension age, the value of Pharmaceutical Allowance has either been incorporated into the Pension Supplement or forms part of the rate paid under transitional arrangements.

Correspondence with Department of Human Services

The AUWU recently contacted the Department of Human Services about a growing problem of unemployed workers having their medical certificates rejected without any explanation. The AUWU also contacted the Guardian about this issue who published a story on it.

Below is the completely unsatisfactory response we have received from DHS. If like the AUWU, you are unhappy with this response, why not contact Human Service Minister Alan Tudge (alan.tudge.mp@aph.gov.au / 03 9887 3890) and demand a better explanation?

 

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We Now Have a DSP Officer

Are you trying to get on the Disability Support Pension but keep getting knocked back?

Are you one of the 80,000+ DSP recipients who are being forced off the payment?

The AUWU is proud to announce we have just appointed a DSP officer to help you with your DSP application.

Our DSP officer is also an expert on Carers Payment and Mobility Allowance.

Please contact dspofficer@unemployedworkersunion.com for further information.

Be sure to provide the following information in your email:

  • What payment you are on (if any)?
  • How long you have been on the payment
  • If you are working, how many hours per week to you work?
  • A summary of the problem you need help with

This is not legal advice. It is information about your rights under the relevant legislation and guidelines.