Keith Davis unashamedly
admits he is unemployed and poor; a station in life that requires him to
turn up fortnightly to his Job Network provider and meet his Mutual
Obligation to the Commonwealth. Keith shares his story, his struggles,
and the shock our government has in store for him in the future, and the
tens of thousands of fellow Australians like him.
Each and every fortnight for the last year I have done the right turning up thing.
Actually, that is not quite accurate. For most of the year I had to
turn up weekly – but at some point someone realised that I was 62 years
old – and they then promptly scrap-heaped me and stuck me on fortnightly
turn ups. There is always a silver lining to every dire circumstance
because my petrol bill, such as it is, is now appreciably lower. One has
to take one’s yahoo moments when one can.
And today was my fortnightly turn up day. And here’s what happened . . .
Along with ten other desperately hopeful Newstart ‘criminals’ I slunk
through the front portals of my local branch of Employment Services
Queensland (ESQ). I duly signed the sign-in book on the front desk and
slunk into the session room. I’m not normally a slunker but since
everybody else was doing it I auto-responded with the When In Rome thing.
After a joyful minute or so of comparing job rejection battle scars
from the last fortnight we all got down to the important business of
seeing what jobs the Session Facilitator was about to refer us to.
In case you have never attended a Job Network I should explain that
Job Networks exist to refer unemployed people to potential jobs. That’s
their reason for existence. That’s what the Job Networks get paid to do.
Since I am verifiably an undoubted Unemployed Personage I continually
and optimistically assume that I am firmly in their job referral
sights. After a year of optimism however I sure hope that their aim gets
a little better. They have not referred me to one single job in that
The Job Network Case Manager who ran today’s session is a pleasant
sort of person. She smiled at us and we all smiled back. She asked us
how we were all going. To a person we obviously all agreed that there
was no point telling her that being stuck on Welfare Benefits and
wallowing in Poverty did not exactly light our collective fire….so we
all said in wearied unison “We’re all just absolutely Great.”
And then she dropped her bombshell . . .
“All of our discretionary funding has just been cancelled. In
fact, all discretionary funding to all Job Networks has just been
Now, I’ve been around long enough to know that things are never what
they appear to be, and I’m well aware that the new tender round for Job
Networks is due mid-year, but it is passing strange that the Government
would pull/cut this type of funding fully five and a half months before
the tender round is due. So what on earth is going on here?
As a Welfare Recipient who is forced to totally waste my time by
attending inane sessions at a Job Network where absolutely no effort has
been made at all to refer me to any sort of job . . . these funding
cuts will make no difference to me.
After all, when the Job Network did have the funding they did nothing
for me, and now that they don’t have the funding they can now fully
afford to continue to do nothing for me. Talk about the stupidity of
Since the Coalition Government sees me (along with my fellow welfare
recipients) as some sort of rogue peasant who needs to be punished for
my disadvantage I am not in the position to tell you why this
discretionary funding to the Job Networks has been pulled. I’m not in
the information loop.
I can only pose the following:
Are all the Job Networks in trouble? Or are the Job Networks
who have consistently abused the Employment Pathway Fund the only ones
who are in trouble? Does that mean that the Job Network that I attend is
in big trouble because they have had to return an appreciable amount of
money to the Government? Since I am but a humble unemployed person I can only guess . . . but even the unemployed can add two and two together . . .
Of course I hope that the writing is finally on the wall for the
unemployment ‘industry’. Are the predatory organisations who line their
own pockets at the expense of the struggling unemployed about to get the
Or, even more hopefully, has the Government finally understood that
we, the people, have finally had a gutful of how people at the high end
look after each other at our expense? Kevin Rudd’s wife did very well
out of the Job Network system both here and in the UK . . . and Job
Networks run by religious groups have done very very well under the
current Coalition Government.
But what would I know . . . after all . . . the treatment that I have
received in the Job Network system continually reminds me that the
Government sees me and my fellow welfare recipients as nothing better
than unemployed peasants.
We are kept in the dark and fed bullshit!