Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Under Prime Minister Scott Morrison's own peculiar mix of politics & social engineering the 'haves' are relentlessly screwing the 'have nots' into the ground

ABC News, 2 August 2019: 

Whistleblowers are warning a $351 million Government program aimed at getting parents back to work is exploiting vulnerable single mothers, and even the homeless. 

Key points: 

ParentsNext is a $351 million scheme to get parents on welfare to meet work and study goals, then return to the workforce 

Employment service providers receive $600 for every client who is on ParentsNext 

Whistleblowers say service providers have kept parents in the scheme who should be exempt. 

At the centre of the controversy is ParentsNext, a program some people must take part in to receive parenting payments from Centrelink. 

It is also the first Australia-wide program to allow private employment service providers to decide who must participate. 

Background Briefing has interviewed current and former employees in Australia's lucrative employment services sector who claim some caseworkers are pressured to sign up and retain people who face significant personal crises, even though departmental guidelines stipulate they should be exempted. 

Homeless but signed up anyway Mel, 33, is one of more than 3,000 homeless Australians who've been signed up to the compulsory employment training program ParentsNext despite having no fixed address to take a shower or prepare a warm meal for her kids. 

A mother of four, Mel's spent more than two years on Tasmania's public housing waiting list. 

She was furious when she received a letter demanding she undergo an eligibility assessment for ParentsNext or else her parenting payments would be cut off. 

 "It's degrading, it's making us feel like we're lazy, like we're not doing nothing for our kids," said Mel, whose last name is being withheld for privacy reasons. Guidelines from the Department of Jobs specify Centrelink could have exempted her from participating on the grounds of her homelessness. 

Mel was instead referred to a local not-for-profit community provider, Workskills, which were paid a government fee just for her turning up. Under ParentsNext, employment service providers are paid $600 for each new recipient they take on. 

Mel was exempted at her first meeting with Workskills, but will be re-examined for eligibility in 12 months. She says she can't understand why the Department did not exempt her at the outset.

Despite being exempted from ParentsNext, last week Mel's parenting payment was cut off after she forgot to tick a box declaring her zero income to Centrelink.

ABCBackground Briefing, "Welfare to Worse", 2 August 2019 podcast here.

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