HUMANS ON CENTRELINK
"In 2014, I was placed on the blind pension, different from the disability pension but a similar rate. However, as the condition that caused my vision loss is something that can strike at any time and is considered rare, I received two letters that year telling me that I did not meet all of the requirements for the disability pension or the blind pension so they were going to remove my payments altogether unless I could prove that my disability was classified as permanent. I had been blind for four years, my optic nerves had been damaged so badly that my specialist told me I would never regain my vision. While the obvious symptoms of the condition that made me lose my vision have vanished, the effects will be with me for life and I have had to modify my day to day routines.If the government would invest money into providing accessible training courses and employment opportunities for people like me (without threatening to take the payments away if we don’t meet their ridiculous criteria) then the likelihood of me needing the pension would be minimal. If the government would stop blaming those of us who truly need these payments to survive and started focusing on how they could make the system far more reasonable and easy to understand then they would not have so many of the issues they claim are causing our national debt to skyrocket."- Grace, Student
"I was on Centrelink at 21 when I moved out of home and suddenly didn't have a job. I was doing honours in biomedical science and was terrified about what to do about money.
I was on Centrelink for four months until I finished my honours and got a job. Without those payments, I would have had to drop out of university."
- Sarah, Biomedical professional
"Due to my mental health I’ve recently had to change from a full time student to a part time student while finishing off my science degree. This means that under this Government I have become a Job Seeker even though I’ve had a casual job for almost 2 years.
Right now, along with everything else I am dealing with, I’m having to apply for jobs until I am able to say I’ve done the required hours over 6 weeks, whilst doing all of my university work and doing shifts at my workplace. This is such a waste of taxpayer money and resources seeing as I already have a job. I just don’t understand it."
– Brodie, Student
“Sometimes I have trouble making friends. That’s why my days out are so great – I get to do fun things and make new friends who understand me. I might not be able to keep doing them though and that makes me sad.” – Bridget, 17
Under Colin Barnett's proposed cuts, the average number of hours of funded care provided to Bridget would drop substantially per year. These hours include not only contact hours spent with specialists, but also include the programs like Therapy Focus which helps people like Bridget learn how to take care of themselves, travel independently, deal with shop keepers and many other life skills. Jane and her family cannot afford to pay for this program, so it is likely Bridget will not be able to participate anymore. This leaves her with an uncertain future.
“I lost my job as a cleaner when the Government got a company in to do the cleaning cheaper. I’d worked there for ten years and then I suddenly had nothing. I still have not found anything full time but I haven’t given up. My disability support pension isn’t enough to live on so I sell the Big Issue.
I work every day between 7am and 3pm come rain or sun, and often have people approach me who are in a similar situation to me. I always have the information to try and help others who ask “How can I do what you do?” or who say “I need help”. If the Government took me off of DSP it’s no good, I wouldn’t survive.”
- Ronald, Big Issue worker
“Sometimes I feel really guilty. I feel like I’ve failed Bridget, even though I know that it’s the Government that has let us down every step of the way. For 25 years I was a teacher and now I've been told that to return to teaching, I have to return to University if I want to do what I’m trained to do. I can’t afford to do that. I’ve been told I need to work 22 hours a week for the dole. I have qualifications, I have workplace skills.
I often forgo dinner so that Bridget can eat the special foods she needs to manage her disability, and we’re already at risk of losing the family house if the planned Government cuts go ahead. I’ve taken Bridget to over 45 appointments in a 3 month period and can’t leave her unsupervised, yet if the Government changes their definition of ‘care’ we won’t get any support for this. I just don’t know how we’ll survive.”
– Jane, Carer and Single Mum
“So many times I’ve experienced issues when trying to communicate with Centrelink, especially when trying to report my income and letting them know when I’m on university holidays.
Without my payments I would not be able to live independently and close enough to university to keep studying. It’s the one thing that allows me enough time to do well at my studies and pay for necessities of living."
- Joe, Anthropology Student