The centrelink system assumptions

Amy Corderoy in the Canberra Times:

Our welfare” system is not about welfare, it is about punishment. Years of demonisation of the unemployed by tabloid newspaper and TV scare campaigns has made it acceptable in our community for governments to design a system that forces people in need through as many humiliating and unpleasant hoops as possible to get their measly $35 or so a day.

One emailer tells how she has been made suddenly redundant from an $80,000-a-year job.

I got $260 a fortnight which did not even pay my rent, let alone bills, food and getting to job interviews,‘’ she writes. ’I came up against constant requirements to undertake job ready’ courses, such as learning how to turn a computer on and off, and open [Microsoft] Excel and Word. Insulting and embarrassing would be putting it mildly.”

The design of the system definitely has a few assumptions which are clear in this example - welfare recipients need to find a job, they do not have basic job skills, if we can only push them harder they will find a job and so on.

It may be true in some cases, but the average is mostly wrong. A system designed for the averages fails for most people. And in my experience, a lot of people value dignity, independence and to not be on welfare at all.

We need a system designed on better assumptions about who their customers are.


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