I arrived at Wesley Mission (Flemington) at around 2:40pm for my 2:45 appointment.
I went to go wait on the computers as usual.
3:00pm – no sign of my job agent.
3:15pm – no sign.
3:30pm – nothing.
I wondered how long would I have to wait for them to notice I was still here.
By 3:50pm they won. I went to the desk to ask what was happening.
The receptionist said “were you waiting in the waiting area”, as if it was my fault I had been left waiting for over an hour.
“No, I was by the computers as I usually am”.
The receptionist went to go talk to the job agent.
A few minute later, my job agent came out and called me in.
“When did you arrive?”
She seemed a bit unnerved by me and was looking at me strangely – probably something to do with the person who threatened to punch a job agent employee earlier and stormed out after being threatened with police action.
“I arrived at 2:40 – I have been waiting for a long time”, I said.
She checked here computer.
“The receptionist sent me the message at 3:11pm that you were here”, she said, as if to imply maybe I was the one who was late.
Once the appointment got underway, I was informed that Wesley Mission have “new rules” which mean I will have to come in once a week. There was no discussion about my job searching or employment opportunities. Straight of the bat, my job agent was making sure they were hitting their Key Performance Indicators.
“I don’t want to come in once a week”, I said. “My job plan says I only have to come in once a month”.
“That job plan needs to be updated”, my job agency told me.
I was explained to my job agent that I had arranged to come in once a month with my previous job plan because I was studying full time and engaging in voluntary work. My job agent informed me that it was now Wesley Mission’s policy to make every stream B and C come in once a week. Stream A’s were required to come in once a fortnight. I was told that if I was unable or unwilling to come in once a week, I should transfer to a different job agency.
“I am not transferring. I have a right to attend monthly appointments, which is why my job plan says I have to attend monthly appointments”.
I was informed that signing a new job pan which said I had to come in once per week was “non-negotiable”.
“Are you familiar with the deed?”, I asked my job agent.
“What deed?” she said, eyes wide.
“Its the contract signed between your job agency and the government. In that contract it says clearly that I can attend monthly appointments”, I said.
According to my job agent, Wesley Mission’s new policy forcing its ‘clients’ to attend weekly appointments came first.
My job agent then proceeded to wrap things up.
“If you come in next week we can sort all this out and work on a new job plan”, she said.
“I already told you, I do not want to come in next week. My job plan says that I can come in monthly. You are breaking my job plan”.
My job agent told me that cause my job plan needed to be updated, it was already broken.
“If you do not want to come in weekly, you need to transfer” I was reminded.
Someone who appeared to be a manager then came to speak to me.
“When we tendered for our contract, [back in 2014] we made an agreement with the government that in our Service Delivery Plan we would provide weekly appointments”, she explained.
I was informed that I had been with Wesley for 96 weeks. Where was this Service Delivery Plan plan?
“You can’t just make up your own rules”, I said. “There is a deed”.
“Are you saying that it is impossible for me to attend monthly appointments while with Wesley?”, I asked.
“Our Service Delivery Plan requires weekly appointments”, she replied before stating I should explore transferring.
“I am going to lodge a complaint about with the Department of Employment”, I said.
“About me saying you can transfer”, the manager said straight faced.
After I explained the obvious, she said that she has put in the system that a job plan was not signed today and I would be contacted by Centrelink ‘today’ or ‘tomorrow’ (!).
“Otherwise there is nothing else for us to discuss”, said the manager.
“We do not want to waste any more of your time”.
A bit late for that – by this time it was 4:20pm.
“You will be hearing from the department”, I said before walking out of the office.