The private operators in the Job Network program and nowadays called Jobactive providers, have been showing just what a caring lot they are, by bullying those who come to them after losing their jobs because of the Coronavirus epidemic. They didn’t give two hoots that the nation was in lockdown and there were no jobs going.
It is the same treatment that the unemployed have been getting all along.
Everyone going on JobSeeker payments is assigned to one of these Jobactive providers, must attend interviews with them, sign an activity agreement, and then do whatever they are told to do, including meaningless tasks, which often operate to discourage rather than lead to finding work.
One of these tasks is to show they have applied for stack of jobs during each payment period. Anyone not complying loses their JobSeeker payments. When individuals are forced to spend their time and effort into applying for unrealistic jobs, just to make up a tally, it becomes a farce. During the lock down, when there are no jobs, this became worse.
The only reason why it happens, is that the Jobactive providers don’t get paid for actually finding people jobs. They get from $269 to $377 per appointment and $1,515, for every individual they get off the Centrelink list. This is geared to generate abuse.
It’s got to stop. This is a bare faced rort and breeds discrimination, and these providers have been given $210 million out of the Coronavirus packages to do it.
It doesn’t end here. It now comes to light, that the federal government went so far as to tell the Jobactive providers to pursue the new people on the JobSeeker allowance, along with those who were already out of work, when the Coronavirus struck.
This came out in a leaked letter from a senior government functionary. The government said it had suspended the mutual obligation requirement. But this letter shows has been actively engaged in lifting it to a new level.
Now that everything might be starting up again, the government is showing that it is keen to pull back on the money promised to help those who lost their livelihood during the lock down. They want the numbers on paper to come down and they want to hang onto the money.
It is high time there was a shift in attitude. People out of work should not be treated as if they deserve to be punished for a situation that is often not their fault. It breeds discrimination and a belief that it is somehow wrong to be kind to others. You hear this with those who are sucked in and look on those out of work as filth from the gutter.
The reality is that there is not enough work for everyone, and we are all judged by how we treat the less fortunate. To have enough income for adequate food, shelter and other basic necessities is a human right, and like all human rights, society has an obligation to ensure all of its members have this right.
The concept of a minimum universal income is gaining popularity. It would counter discrimination and extend to those suffering form under employment. Australia should give it a go.