Single Parents Story of Job Agency Bullying

“This is my story….

I am a single parent and have worked my whole life up until recently when i lost my job.

I started receiving newstart in on 8th december 2015.

I was put straight on the work for the dole program which was all good.

The school holidays where coming up and i mentioned to my employment service provider that during the school holidays i was not able to attend to my activity because i had to obviously care for my kids.

I was told by the service provider that, thats too bad i still had to attend my activity, and to put my kids in care or get a friend or relative to care for them, even got told to apply to centrelink for a carers pension for the duration of the school holidays.

I told them that all of the above was not possible my next response from my provider ‘ well your just going to have to bring them to your activity ‘
At this stage i was ready to go off at my consultant (but i kept my calm)

And i said you expect me to bring my 2 children to work for the dole?

My consultant said yes or you will be cut off the dole.

I said that im not prepared to do that for obvious reasons, safety issues because my activity is cooking fir industry and also my kids are on school holidays they dont need to be working for the dole.

Anyway i didn’t go for the duration of the school holidays and was cut off every single fortnight so i spent probably 10 hrs on the phone to centrelink restoring my payments over that period. Even centrelink said that the service provider needs to recognise this but they didn’t and both would play the blame game with each other.

Then last week god forbid me i got the flu and one of my children was off sick from school. I ended up not going to my activity for 2 days i called my service provider told them that i was unable to attend. I was told to go get a medical certificate. I called up could not get an appointment until the following week and doctors dont back date medical notes.

Let my service provider know this but still was got good enough so i got fined $119 for the two days i was sick and caring for my child.

How can they fine you like this ?? i feel like a criminal but they dont realize with that pety amount of money i do get paid i have to pay rent, food and bills im lucky to have 5c left after each pay as it is. Im going to have to now apply for a food voucher from a charity now, i have never ever had to do this before, im embarrassed to even have to do this.

I have appealed the decision just waiting on a response.
Thank you for reading it feels like i dont have a voice.

Im banging my head against a brick wall.”


AUWU Response:


Sorry to hear about your troubles with your job agency. We really appreciate you letting us know about your troubles as it is never easy.

Two questions first:

You say you have been ‘fined’. These fines you are talking about (known as No Show No Pay Penalties) currently can only occur if you miss an appointment with your job agent without a reasonable excuse. You said you got this for not attending WFTD. Can you tell me exactly what you are being fined for? Have you received any letters about this penalty?

Would you be interested in participating in our legal challenge against these fines? We are challenging them on the basis that they breach natural justice as people are fined before they can appeal.

Alright now that I have got those questions out of the way, I would like to talk about your WFTD activity. There is a lot to get through here to bear with me.

1. As a single parent you do not have to do Work for the Dole. Check the mutual obligation tables here and it says that single parents (aka PCP/ Primary Care Providers) have a choice of activities. This means you cannot be forced to do Work for the Dole and can choose to do volunteer work or part time study. For more information about these choices, click this link.

2. Have you been on the dole for 6 months? According to those same tables mentioned above, you can only be pushed onto work for the dole during your work for the dole phase (after 6 months). I have heard of other single parents being pushed straight on and wondering if you are to

3. Do you have any illness or medical conditions? If so, request an Employment Services Assessment through centrelink. This may make you exempt from WFTD, but it will also mean you won’t have to fulfill any activities until the assessment has occurred. Click here for more info on these assessments.

4. Social Security Law clearly says that activities must be scheduled inside school hours for single parents:

“Note 2: For principal carer parents on NSA or YA, activities and other requirements should be scheduled to occur during school hours (i.e. generally between 9 am and 3 pm during school terms), unless otherwise requested or agreed to by the principal carer parent. This includes participation in employment services and other activities, and during the annual activity requirement for job seekers in jobactive and the RJCP.”


I have heard of WFTD participants who are single parents being given that time off, but still having to fulfill their hours at a later date.

Please look into these areas and if you agree, you should make a complaint about your job agent to the department of employment (1800 805 260) ASAP. Here is some info on how to make this complaint.


Its great that you have appealed your fine but to fix this problem in the future and let your job agent know that you will not roll over, it is important to get the Department to investigate this issue.

Finally, will you allow us to publish your story (anonymously) on our facebook? I think it is a perfect example of how broken our system is today.

There is a lot of info here so please take your time with it. Please email/call me back if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

Owen Bennett
Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union
Advocacy Officer
(03) 8394 5266