Josh, AUWU member
“Been applying for for 20-40 jobs a week since I got on centrelink in May 2014 and I’ve had no luck. I was a straight A student whose parents split up in late 2012 and had to live with my mother. She began dating a psychopath who would beat me up for any reason under the sun. I realised my only options were suicide or centrelink so I applied and it took over a year before they accepted my claim. This was because I needed to get a third party to fill out an unreasonable to live at home form. They told me it couldn’t be a friend of mind and had to be someone like a teacher or family friend. Considering I aced school you might assume I got along with my teachers but it was quite the opposite. I never once had a good teacher and would literally sleep through school because it was so easy(boring).
It wasn’t until I got lucky and was brutally beaten up a day before a centrelink appointment that I was finally able to get approved by the system. They even tried to deny me when I had dried blood all over my face. I had to beg the lady and start crying before she decided to speak to one of their social workers who took one glance at me then said I’ll be accepted. Both myself and my mother were told that I should have gotten centrelink when I first applied for it a year prior but they took no accountability and refused to back-pay me a single cent.
What makes matters worse is that I originally had about $6000 in savings when I first applied for centrelink in Feb 2013 but this disappeared quickly when I moved out for 6 months. I was a student at the time and had hoped that centrelink would accept me so that I could continue my studies in a non-abusive environment. When my life savings had all been used to pay for rent, bills and food I was forced to move back to the abusive environment or become homeless. When I was finally approved 9 months later(May 2014) it was not as a student but as a job seeker. I really did want a job and decided to give it my best knowing that I could always return to university and remain on centrelink.
So this is when centrelink stopped being such a thorn in my ass and max employment took over. At first I was on level 1 and it was okay but I’d only worked casual jobs so I had a lot to learn about the job industry. They taught me nothing and the more I requested help the more of a deterrent they became. So I stopped trying to get any help from them and tried to be grateful that such an incompetent agency only wanted me to come in once a month. It wasn’t until a couple months ago when I moved suburbs that they moved me up to level 2. At this point I was shocked and appalled by the system in place and had decided to just get a casual or part-time job and return to university. Once I got my acceptance email I notified both centrelink and max employment and was told that I would be switched to student youth allowance on the day I start university. For some reason this was when max employment decided to gear things up a notch. They started dragging me in for 3h resume writing seminars and 2h of job searching per week on their slow computers. This inhibited my ability to look for work and killed most of the motivation I had left. They then decided to drag me in for physical/psychological assessments which they admit was a mistake yet still force me to attend. I’ve told them many times that I’m going back to uni in less than a month yet they keep adding more compulsory appointments for me to attend. It’s absurd that I’m being forced to jump through their hoops when it does not benefit me in any way.
In the end the one good thing that has come from these appointments is when I saw an advertisement on their job board requesting temporary staff to help pack flowers during next week(valentines day). Out of my own accord I took it to the only person in the entire office who seems to give a shit and asked for the position. Initially he told me that the employer only wanted girls for the role but I remarked about how it doesn’t seem like a gender-based role and that seemed to change his mind. I now have 30 hours of work lined up for me next week but I’d really prefer a stable part-time job.”