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Staff Told to Walk it Off
Staff Told to Walk it Off
27 October 2005
Centrelink staff are being given pedometers – devices used to count footsteps – to help them deal with flying colostomy bags, dead snakes and fire bombs.
Centrelink staff take more sickies than anybody else in Australia, prompting management to buy the fitness-inducing gizmos for staff, as well as sending them to health seminars.
The department has also tied a one per cent increase in its current enterprise agreement pay offer with a one day a year drop in sick leave across the department.
But the Public Sector Union says the high number of sick days at Centrelink is because departmental policies lead to abuse from clients.
"To think you can dangle money in front of people - people are deeply insulted and annoyed at the assumption behind it," a CPSU spokesman said.
The spokesman said confusing and ever-changing policy at the department set clients off.
"They need to look at why people get annoyed - and it could be that they're dissatisfied with policy," he said.
"Another problem is that low staffing levels are leading to high levels of queue rage."
Mainstream media have reported that Centrelink staff have been assaulted by colostomy bag wielding pensioners. Other customers have resorted to the use of dead snakes and firebombs to express their frustrations.
Centrelink staff suffer abuse and threats at work
By Steve Lewis
September 15, 2008 12:01am
- Centrelink staff subjected to abuse, death threats
- Attacked during home visits
- Threatened with knives, guns, chainsaws
AUSTRALIA'S most dangerous workplace is emerging as Centrelink, with staff on the welfare frontline subject to serious abuse and death threats.
Public servants were being threatened with baseball bats, knives and even a chainsaw, a new report has shown.
Some threats were implied but nevertheless frightening, such as the officer who received a cartoon of himself hanging from a noose.
Some Centrelink offices have been set on fire while staff making home visits have been attacked with toasters, glass flagons and ashtrays.
The national survey of Centrelink staff, who have only minimal security, revealed workers often had to cope with furniture being smashed and serious crimes, including a siege.
The Rudd Government is considering installing wall-to-wall security across its welfare agency network amid reports that four in five staff have received threats at work.
The Community and Public Sector Union's survey of 330 workers found they were regularly exposed to verbal abuse, death threats and even physical assaults.
Centrelink, which employs 27,000 public servants in more than 300 offices around the country is responsible for distributing tens of billions of dollars in welfare and family payments a year.
One manager reported that "countless" staff had been beaten up by angry welfare recipients.
The CPSU said a third of those surveyed had received death threats and nearly two-thirds were verbally abused in the past three months.
Part of the problem was blamed on tougher eligibility rules for welfare payments and cutbacks which have led to long queues and waiting times for the tens of thousands of Australians attending Centrelink offices, the CPSU said.
CPSU national secretary Stephen Jones called for urgent action.
He said: "No one should have to come to work expecting that there is a chance they are going to get assaulted. This is one of the toughest places in Australia to work."
The CPSU survey reports that public servants are not safe even after they leave the workplace. Despite the police being regularly called into handle difficult cases, staff were exposed to attacks outside the office where they are even more vulnerable, the union claims.
Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig, responsible for Centrelink, said he was willing to consider a much tougher line on security.
He recently visited New Zealand, where its peak welfare agency has a security officer in every office.
Senator Ludwig said he was prepared to embrace the New Zealand model if that is the best possible solution to breaking the cycle of violence against public servants.
"I don't have a one-tick solution (but) we need to address it," Senator Ludwig said
Finally made it onto Centrelink Newstart after 18 months
Posted June 18th, 2008 by Anonymous
My son has finally made it onto Newstart benefits this week. The last 18 months have been absolute hell for him and his family. The trouble started when a previous employer wrote on his employment separation certificate that he left of his own accord, when in fact he was sacked for taking a long lunch. This was a stupid thing to do but he was only 16 at the time. Centrelink took that to mean he was not looking for work or he was at fault and they decided to make an example of him.
He got another job as a furniture salesman but it fell through after 6 weeks due to a downturn in business. He tried again to get Centrelink benefits and they made it impossible.
They would get him in for an interview and say things like:
"You didn't send us copies of this and that." (He said he did).
"You haven't got this document or that one....."
"Go away and get all the documents on this list and make another appointment when you've got them together."
"You are not looking for work really, are you?"
They would question him about his job applications and he'd say "I'm waiting to hear from this company and that company" and they'd say "If you are waiting to hear, then you are not looking for work actively, so you are not eligible for Newstart."
He was very inexperienced with dealing with these bullies and got intimidated. He would come back from these interrogations with his hands shaking and in the end his hands would be shaking before he even left home.
He put an ad in the paper for fixing computers and that kept him in pocket money for a few months. Now and then he would try to reapply for Newstart and all the crap would start up again.
They accused him of having an illegal business with no ABN. He said it was only a hobby but they said he was not looking for work because he was already self-employed. He was getting an average of $25 per week.
These bastards need to be exposed. This is disgusting. My son has applied for dozens of jobs and has often got into the final round of interviews only to be left at the post. We think it is possible they are phoning the first employer who claims he took long lunches. They demand the phone number of a previous employer and that's really the only one he's got. Centrelink have probably also contacted them.
You make one mistake at 16 and it follows you for your whole life, does it?
With a lot of prompting he tried again in recent weeks and got some help getting all the paperwork they wanted and was a bit more cunning in answering their questions, not falling into their trap.
I just hope they do not cut him off for no apparent reason, as they have in the past, and leave me and his friends to try and keep him fed and clothed.
I am the one who has suffered the most through Centrelink's actions. Why couldn't they at least have a scheme where, if a person isn't eligible for Newstart, they give the parents say $200 per fortnight to buy food? Why have I had to support him all this time and not the government? Is it right that someone in our society can be left with NOTHING to buy food and essentials?
Comment viewing options
Re: Finally made it onto Centrelink Newstart after 18 months
On June 19th, 2008 Anon2 (not verified) says:
19 June 2008: Hi anon, please dont despair, there are thousands of us that have to endure the nasty hatred of Centrelink staff. What they have not done to me is not worth while putting on paper. I am a mature grand-mother. I have been dragged through 9 years of terror at the hands of not just Centrelink. The two large fraternities are working hand in hand to make my life a living hell. I had to tackle one part of the legal action myself because I am being blocked from any legal representation.
I am kept isolated and running - forced out of homes to ensure I have to run.
Right now I believe the young man needs to stay focussed on finding work PRIVATELY. the work place agencies are linked with Centrelink who can either play nice and allow the employment - or not. (my experience 2003) So many spiteful and retaliative tricks are used to cause so much pain and heartache to another human - it sucks, it is so wrong, it removes human rights and civil. My intention is to take the necessary action - when I can get a little time and after this legal matter I am now facing is finalized. A class action would be a great way of standing up to their abuse.
I wish I could offer you more assistance because I know what the young man and obvious his family are going through.
Best wishes, anon2
Re: Finally made it onto Centrelink Newstart after 18 months
On June 26th, 2008 Anonymous (not verified) says:
Just a suggestion...have learnt to always, always, always ask for copies of information you submit to centrelink. Be sure the copies are dated and signed and stamped by a centrelink officer. This appears to be the only way to move forward in a system that all too often claims to have misplaced, lost or never recieved the information in the first place. Every centrelink office has a paper copier, even if you have to take your own blank sheets in with you (that's how stingy some centrelink officers can be) it is a worthwhile thing to do....as you never know when you will need to substantiate the fact that you have applyed and/or provided the relevant info required to be assessed for an allowance.
Goodluck. My thoughts are with you and your son. I hope you manage to stumble across someone in Centrelink with a heart!
Re: Finally made it onto Centrelink Newstart after 18 months
On June 29th, 2008 hojuruku says:
The same happened to me.
You should have gone to the Administrative Appeals tribunal or put in the complaint form they give you. I nearly had this happen to me, because the Employer sacked me even after I saved the company from total obliteration (no proper back-up when I got the job and they were a datamining company).
I found the staff at Centrelink Darlinghurst helpful and kind, and they quickly backdown when I acted informed. This 18 month "breech", giving employers to turn people into homeless wrecks is disguisting.
I suggest you lodge a complaint then go to the Administrative Appeals tribunal. I'm going there to force the police give me evidence which proves one of their dyke officers deserves to go to jail for up to 14 years for a serious crime against justice.
Also tell your son, if he's good with computers like me to study any organisation like a computer. Learn their rules. Learn their procedures as if you worked there then you'd be in a position to tell them how to do their job, and make them comply. Also do what I did when it went bad, go shopping for better customer service at a different centrelink. You can go to a different centrelink up to twice in a row.
Also remember they are only human. There are holes in the System. I saw a guy I knew who had his own business come into lodge a form with a Ford made sportscare (custom import). I even got everyone to run out of the Centrelink from the line to go see it.
I also got off the dole and started my own IT business with the NEIS (New Enterpise Incentive Scheme) but it was shot down due to my spending all the super I had saved on Lawyers, because an illegial sex worker (I didn't know at the time) was using me as a visa portal through a false domestic violence matter, even though I didn't sponsor her.
I had a problem of a dodgy Job Network Contractor in Rockdale insisting I do job place training even though I was approved for the next intake of NEIS. They tried to breech me 3 times in a row as a threat because they insisted I do this training at the same time I was going to use 20K worth of IT training vouchers my old employer gave me. Why? Because they wanted the bonus paycheck from the Government. Centrelink officals intervened and put a special hold on my job network status, because these bastards were after easy money. Clearly centrlink ahd nothing to gain from breeching your son and clearly it isn't fair. I highly suggest you self-represent in the administrative appeals tribunal, write some true stat decs (don't dare lie you'll get jail). Tell Centrelink of your suggested course of action, though I have never heard of anyone being backpayed allegedly owed social security. Good luck with your endevours, nothing ventured nothing gained as they say. It's clear your son wants to work and isn't a dole bludger.
I was sacked once before too for refusing to do a crime of Industrial Espionarge whilst working at St Marys Leagues. Is it fair I rot on a street corner for refusing to do a crime? This rule centrelink regulation to be reviewed.
I was asked to steal all the finance data from a joint venture partner not under the clubs control (Now Defunt One World Sport Darling Harbour), so my employer could take over, and change the security company over to company owned by bent ex-police officers. The club would then pay the company about 10 times the going rate to lower operational profit. Before 2005 clubs would pay less tax on pokermachines if they lowered their profit. St Marys Leagues fought in the Federal Court to get Tax Free Status against the ATO. This is so the Barrington Group could give the change after their protection racket fees to the club as a tax free dontation. All the contractors for the club had this arrangement too, with "Platinum Sponsorship Status". The Barrington Group did this at a large number of Leagues Clubs.I've been on radio and even the Secretary of Bundeena RSL came on to support me.
PIC and ICAC didn't investigate. Claimed I didn't write a stat dec, but a statement was wrote in their office that took 2 hours. Then the death threats against me and my family came when they gave it to the same people where were helping the Ex-Police owned security company have most of their staff work for free with State Administered Traineeship grants (federal money though). My brother died in 2006 and it was very distressing.
Hojuruku: ???? Korean for Aussie Luke
'The Truth Shall Set you Free'
For information on my public protected disclosure showing that a NSW GLLO Police officer should be indited for perverting the course of justice click on the link below