Category Archives: Announcements

AUWU Address at ACOSS Post-Budget Breakfast

In July 2015, the Abbott government implemented the most punitive approach to unemployed Australians ever seen in this country. Under the three new contracts rolled out by Abbott (Jobactive, CDP and DES- DMS), the number of penalties skyrocketed to 2 million – double the previous year (and a 10 times increase in 2011 figure).

Many Australian Unemployed Workers Union members report diminished capacity to effectively seek work combined with increased mental health pressures as a result of these systems. Some have described these systems as “soul destroying”.

The very expensive job provider system and its punitive regimes including the breaching of payments, denies money necessary for basic living in a consumer driven society.

These policies form a downward pressure packaged in the form of repressive justice which politicians claim to be the will of the taxpayers.

Since the announcement of new, demoralising, still more punitive measures in the federal budget – such as the ‘demerit point’ system, the cashless card and mandatory drug testing – it is true to say that welfare policy looks a lot like correctional services policy.

If Government is going to further target Australians on behalf of taxpayer desires, misinformed as they may be, then AUWU suggest they start at the top and work through the middle rather than target the bottom.

On the basis of welfare policy alone it will be Mr. Scott Morrison and his fellows who history may recall as being the first true tyrants of contemporary Australia.

In her 20th C commentary regarding the nature of political parties, philosopher & activist Simone Weil pointed out that:

“Human beings are so made that the ones who do the crushing feel nothing.

It is the person who is crushed who feels what is happening.

Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand.”

As representatives of welfare recipients we all need to do much more work to undermine this oppressive treatment of the unemployed. We need to actually take some action.

The AUWU would like to propose a compliance working group be established immediately to workshop effective strategies to resist the current punitive approach to the unemployed.




Problems With the INDUE Healthy Welfare Card

The INDUE card is very different from a bankcard. It operates as a credit card in the sense that the funds are not the property of the recipient, so a recipient has no claim to interest accrued on funds over time. In the case of a person becoming ill and spending a period of time in hospital (for mental health patients this can amount to regular periods of many months) this becomes a significant revenue stream for the company INDUE who have ownership of accrued interest. In other words INDUE & Eftpos get to keep your small change, the stuff that used to go in the jar above the fridge that comes in handy to pay the winter electricity bill with.

Other problems that present with cashless welfare in a society where the welfare payments don’t lift people over the poverty line is that mainstream shopping is just to expensive, flexible rental arrangements will be impossible to handle, share housing and split bills will be impossible to manage, emergency situations requiring cash will be impossible to manage. People will not be able to “chip in” or help each other financially from fortnight to fortnight. Another very dubious fact around cashless welfare is that the company managing it are not a bank and will not provide any of the privacy and security measures that banks provide. Our data will be open to organisations who collect data to profile and target consumers. The Government cannot guarantee our privacy because INDUE are not a Government organisation.

The Cashless welfare card, termed by Government as the Healthy Welfare Card, will mean the end of consumer anonymity for welfare recipients while the rest of society is free to engage in whatever transactions they choose. By removing choice and variety from welfare recipients the card will ensure the unemployed and underemployed are even more stigmatised than we already are.

The INDUE cashless welfare card will mean that all transactions will have to be made through an eftpose machine, if a business / trader does not rent an eftpos machine then no transaction can be made. This cuts out a wide variety of cheaper alternatives to mainstream shopping that welfare recipients rely on including many second hand and opportunity shops, farmers markets and trash and treasures, garage sales, all second-hand goods trading between friends and aquaintences, private owner second hand vehicals and parts, side of the road food and produce stores, regional swimming pools and many youth orientated activities, sausage sizzles, arts markets, small traders, schools and neighbourhood fund raising initiatives, small scale school excursions, lunch orders and raffels. Eftpos transactions and inter-banking (transfers and payment of invoices) will mean that mortguage payments and other payments can become more expensive with extra fees being required from receiving banks and organisations as well as transaction charges being applied. Eptpos is a company which makes money from transactions and card, it is wholly owned by its 18 Members and all profits from cashless welfare transactions will go to these companies:

Justice For Josh Rallies Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the tragic death of Josh Park-Fing at his Work for the Dole site in Toowoomba.

The Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union are holding rallies in Sydney and Melbourne tomorrow to demand Justice For Josh and that the dangerous Work for the Dole and Community Development Program be shut down.

If you can’t come and show your support in person, please share the Justice For Josh campaign and petition throughout your network under the #JusticeForJosh handle.

Speakers for Melbourne rally (12pm, State Library of Victoria) include:

Ged Kearney (President, ACTU)
Sophie Johnstone (President, NUS)
David Thompson (CEO, Jobs Australia)
Lisa Newman (Deputy National President, CPSU)
Godfrey Moase (Assistant General Branch Secretary, NUW)
Owen Bennett (President, Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union)

Speakers for Sydney rally (1pm, 137 – 153 Crown Street, Darlinghurst):

Ed Husic (Shadow Minister for Employment Services, ALP)
Mark Morey (Secretary, Unions NSW)
Peter Davidson (ACOSS, Senior Policy Advisor)
Raul Bassi, Lizzy Jarred (Indigenous Social Justice Association)
Bill Keats (Sydney Branch, Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union)

There will be a Justice For Josh Memorial in Toowoomba on Saturday 22 April.



Labor has called for a Senate inquiry into the fraught Community Development Program, with the support of the Greens.

Communities across the Northern Territory and Western Australia have consistently told us that this system leaves people in more debt, without food to feed their families, in rental arrears and feeling hopeless, struggling with an infuriating bureaucratic reporting process.

In 2016 an ANU report labelled the CDP a policy disaster that widens gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, rather than closing them.

The Inquiry’s comprehensive terms of reference will give CDP participants and stakeholders the opportunity to make submissions that reflect the true nature of the fraught CDP.

The inquiry is an opportunity to hear directly from CDP participants and communities to provide authentic insight into the shambolic process of CDP.

Through community engagement and direct involvement in the submission making process, there is the real potential to make significant improvements in addressing employment across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The motion to establish the committee was tabled in the Senate on 22 March, 2017.

The Inquiry will review the appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of the Community Development Program (CDP), with specific reference to:

  1. the adequacy of the policy process that led to the design of the CDP;
  2. the nature and underlying causes of joblessness in remote communities;
  3. the ability of the CDP to provide long term solutions to joblessness, and to achieve social, economic and cultural outcomes that meet the needs and aspirations of remote Indigenous people;
  4. the impact of the CDP on the rights of participants and their communities, including the appropriateness of the payments and penalties systems;
  5. the funding of the CDP, including the use of unspent funds in the program;
  6. the extent of consultation and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the design and implementation of the CDP, and the role for local decision making within the program;
  7. alternatives approaches to addressing joblessness and community development in remote Indigenous communities; and
  8. any other related matters.
















Dignity Not Debt Leafleting Campaign Update

The AUWU has been informed by the Community Public Sector Union (CPSU) that for legal reasons it is pulling out of the Dignity Not Debt National Actions.

The CPSU received legal advice this morning informing it that its participation in this event could be seen as illegal industrial action and may expose the union to legal action by the government.

The AUWU will still hand out its material outside Centrelink offices as part of this action (see here for how to print this material) and encourages all members and supporters across the country to get involved over the next month.

If you need access to printed materials please email

For more information, please visit the facebook event page:

Fight4Facts Campaign Launch

THE AUSTRALIAN UNEMPLOYED WORKERS UNION (AUWU) is launching its Fight4Facts campaign highlighting what it claims is the deliberate underreporting of unemployment by the Coalition Government. 

“It is one of the worst kept secret in the industry that the Australian Bureau of Statistics deliberately underreports the number of unemployed Australians”, said AUWU President Owen Bennett.

According to the ABS, someone who works only one hour a week is considered employed. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this data collection of method would underestimate the amount of Australians looking for work”.

Given Australia’s increasingly casualised workforce, Bennett claims that the Coalition is cynically using this shortcoming of ABS data collection to hide Australia’s growing employment crisis.

In its latest release the ABS reported that there are 748,100 unemployed people in Australia. However, according to Bennett this figure is “not worth the paper it was written on as it ignores the underemployed and the hidden unemployed giving a profoundly distorted picture of the Australian labour market”.

“The Coalition has presided over the largest increase in part-time employment as a proportion of the labour force ever recorded. Of the 534,000 Australians employed since the Coalition took office in 2013, more than three quarters were employed on a part-time basis – defined by the ABS as working between 1-35 hours per week.

“If you combine the ABS data on unemployment with its data on underemployment and hidden unemployment there just under 2.8 million Australians looking for work.”

“Matched against the Government data on job vacancies, there are 17 job seekers competing for every job vacancy – compared to a ratio of 4 to 1 using current ABS data on unemployment.”


“As long as they are allowed to the Coalition will continue to hide behind this dodgy unemployment data, they will continue to sweep the suffering of unemployed and underemployed Australians under the rug.”

“The AUWU’s Fight4Facts Campaign is finally going to call the Turnbull government out on its lies and demand the government take responsibility for this employment crisis.”

As part of its Fight4Facts campaign, the AUWU has released new data provided by employment consultants that shows that 406 randomly selection job vacancies based in Melbourne received 26,977 applications – a ratio of 66 to one.

“The government has to stop covering up this employment crisis and start fixing this before it gets any worse”, said Bennett.


#JusticeForJosh – Release the Report Into Work For The Dole Death

In April last year, 18 year-old Josh Park-Fing tragically died at his Government-approved Work for the Dole site in Toowoomba.

Distraught family members and shocked members of the public demanded answers. Minister of Employment Michaelia Cash indicated that an investigation would be carried out into the tragedy and a report would be released within a month.

Eleven months on and the Park-Fing family, Josh’s friends, and the general public are still waiting for the report into this tragedy to be released.

Furthermore, immediately following the tragedy the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union (AUWU) made an FOI request for the Government’s Work for the Dole risk assessment conducted for the Toowoomba site.

This request has also been rejected by Minister Cash because it contained information that could “harm” NEATO – Josh Park-Fing’s job agency.

By withholding this crucial information relating to the Work for the Dole tragedy, the Coalition is shamelessly trying to cover up Josh Park-Fing’s death to protect the already damaged reputation of the Work for the Dole program.

This is a national disgrace.

Work for the Dole is dangerous – last year injuries sustained at Work for the Dole sites increased 5 times. The government cannot guarantee the safety of unemployed workers forced to attend Work for the Dole programs.

Work for the Dole must be shut down.

In response to the Government’s disgraceful failure to provide answers over Josh Park-Fing’s death, the AUWU has launched its #Justiceforjosh campaign and is calling on Australians to call Minister Cash’s office to demand the release of the report and the risk assessment. Please share the facebook event throughout your networks.
Minister Cash’s contact details are below:

Parliamentary office: (02) 6277 7320
Electoral Office: (08) 9226 2000

The AUWU has also released a petition to demand the release of the report into Josh Park-Fing’s death and the Work for the Dole risk assessment.

The Turnbull government must take the necessary steps to investigate this program and ensure the safety of all Work for the Dole participants before another serious injury or death occurs at Work for the Dole.

If you are one of the 90,000 Australians currently participating in a Work for the Dole activity, the AUWU encourages you to assert your right to participate in a non-Work for the Dole activity – such as Voluntary Work or approved study – until your safety can be guaranteed. See here for more info or call the AUWU hotline on (03) 8394 5266.

Stay tuned for further actions demanding #JusticeforJosh

Dignity Not Debt Movement Announce National Action

On 20 March, the Dignity Not Debt Movement will launch a campaign of rolling actions at Centrelink offices across the country demanding that the Turnbull Government abolish the robo-debt system.

The Turnbull government desperately wants the robo-debt crisis to go away.

Recently, the Government warned social security recipients that their public information would be publicly released if they criticised Centrelink’s new automated-debt recovery system, while Centrelink workers have been told that they risk losing their jobs if they commented publicly.

Turnbull’s shameless campaign to cover up the robo-debt issue is a disgrace.

However, Turnbull cannot prevent the Community and Public Service Union (CPSU) and the Dignity Not Debt movement from speaking out.

As part of its National Week of Action, the Dignity Not Debt movement – with support from the CPSU – will distribute important information at Centrelink offices across the country detailing what is really going on at the Department of Human Services.

Information on how to fight a debt and make a submission to the recently announced Senate inquiry will also be provided.

This is where we need your help.

To join the Dignity Not Debt’s Week of Action, simply email and we will help you coordinate a stall outside your local Centrelink office. You will also be put in touch with the local CPSU representative in order to receive printed materials.

Over the last five years, DHS workers in Centrelink have seen 5000 permanent jobs disappear. These workers also bear witness to the impact of service delivery failures like the robo-debt crisis that are direct result of federal government job cuts.

By donating even just one hour of your time to hand out materials at your local Centrelink, you can help build a better social security system and support the hundreds of thousands of Australians currently being bullied by the Turnbull government.
Please help us promote this important action by sharing the facebook event throughout your networks.

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

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