Dozens of NT Centrelink clients’ details published on public Facebook page

A Commonwealth-funded work-for-the-dole provider uploaded lists of people who were required to attend client meetings to a public Facebook page.

“We are at a loss as to why anyone would post about workers’ appointments online,” union official Lara Watson said.

“We were shocked at the publication of names on a social media platform.”

The incidents are the latest to emerge from the Government’s flagship remote employment scheme, the Community Development Programme (CDP).

Nearly 50 people from the Northern Territory community of Galiwinku, located 500 kilometres east of Darwin, were affected.

The job service provider, the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA), established the social media page apparently with the intention of uploading such lists.

“Welcome to our Facebook page where we will be posting appointments, courses and CDP information,” it wrote last month.

The two sheets of names were posted to the Galiwinku CDP page on March 11 and 12.

Both images were shared to another local Facebook group titled Elcho Island Notice Board, which has more than 2,000 members.

One CDP insider denounced the online uploads, saying they were unprecedented and could have placed job seekers at risk.

“If a person has a family violence order in place to protect them, then perhaps the perpetrator would know where she was,” said the source, who requested anonymity.

“It advertised that a person is accessing welfare services, and unfortunately in Australia there’s discrimination against people accessing welfare services.

“People can be bullied for being unemployed.”

The Galiwinku CDP page appears to have since been removed from the internet but the organisation denied any wrongdoing.

“We do not believe that this is a breach of confidentiality,” an ALPA spokeswoman said.

“All ALPA CDP participants give … media consent when they commence as a participant.”

Unions strongly oppose current dole model

Newstart and other welfare recipients are required to take part in training programs and activities under CDP, facing fines of about $50 for non-attendance.

Posting the lists on the Facebook page appears to have been a short-lived way for the provider to tell clients when they were due for meetings.

“We also have concerns that if a CDP worker didn’t see a Facebook post that they had an appointment, the penalties they would receive if absent,” Ms Watson from the Australian Council of Trade Unions said.

The Prime Minister’s Department, which oversees the CDP, said it took the privacy of participants seriously and providers should “protect any personal information collected”.

“The department is satisfied that ALPA has met its responsibilities under the Privacy Act,” a spokeswoman said last week.

But the nation’s top public service agency admitted late Thursday it had not viewed any signed consent forms, instead reviewing a template document it was provided by the Arnhem Land organisation.

The ABC last year revealed a nearby CDP region, run by the same provider, recorded more penalties on average per person than any other region.

The troubled employment initiative operates across most of Australia’s land mass at a cost of about $300 million annually.

The ABC, earlier this month, revealed claims of safety breaches by a West Australian provider, prompting an investigation by the Prime Minister’s Department.

The scheme has come under fire because participants — most of whom are Aboriginal — are forced to work more hours than non-remote jobseekers.

More than 550,000 fines nationwide have been issued to participants since the Coalition introduced the new employment system in July 2015.

Federal Labor has promised to scrap CDP, if elected, but is yet to reveal a replacement remote employment program.



Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.