- The experience of AUWU members is that job agents are increasing the number of appointments. More appointments increases the likelihood of penalties. More penalties means more unemployed workers pushed off social security and made destitute.
- The demerit point system is added to an already-broken compliance system. In 2015-16, there were 2 million penalties imposed on unemployed workers. The National Social Security Rights Network notes half of job agency penalties are imposed incorrectly.
What is the Demerit Point System?
What can I do to block it?
- Keep detailed records of all your interactions with your job agent.
Write down names, dates, times and content of phone conversations, conversations at appointments.
You will need these records as evidence of unfair treatment if you make an appeal to Centrelink.
- Make an individual complaint – let’s keep their lines busy!
Under the demerit point system, the Centrelink appeals system becomes the only way unemployed workers can oppose penalties. The AUWU encourages all unemployed workers who feel they have been unfairly penalised to complain in writing to
- Department of Jobs and Small Business Customer Service Line (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- your job agency
- Sign up to the Job Agency Action Group below, for more ways to help yourself, your fellow recipients, or to support people you know:
More Nasty Details
The changes were made in the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017, which was passed by federal parliament on 26 March 2018.
This legislation comes with other nasty “reforms”:
- Throughout all phases, if you refuse paid work, voluntarily leave a job, or are dismissed for misconduct from a job, your payment will stop for 4 weeks. This cannot be waived.
- Job seekers will no longer be able to use drug or alcohol dependency as a reasonable excuse for being unable to meet their mutual obligation requirements, unless they agree to seek treatment. It sees drug and alcohol dependency as a moral issue, not the health issue it is.
- Longer wait times for new applicants… and we know how easy the application process is — not!
- A new single JobSeeker Payment will progressively replace or consolidate seven existing payments between March 2020 and January 2022. No more Widow Allowance — too bad grieving widows, you now get to go onto Newstart. No more Sickness Allowance.
National Social Security Rights Network – fact sheet about the new system