24th Oct 2018
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Where’s my ‘fair go’? asks Aileen, 65 and out of work
Author: Janelle Ward
job interview

As Anglicare Australia calls for an overhaul of employment services for older people, YourLifeChoices member Aileen Reiter gives a first-hand description of the difficulties she has encountered. She sent an email to a Queensland senator and MP regarding the Work for the Dole program for those aged 60-plus. She says: “I apologise for the length of this communication but I think it is important you get the full picture.”

•••

Hello Senator/MP,
I was listening to Parliament Question Time today and heard Prime Minister Scott Morrison say he believes in “a fair go for those who have a go”. My question is, how is pursuing prosperity to be achieved for the 60-plus age group by forcing them to Work for the Dole after being unemployed for six months?

I am a single, 65-year-old female. I’ve had 45 years in the workforce and have been receiving Newstart since 5 July 2018. I have worked in the public and private sectors in various capacities and roles. I own my home outright, have a reliable vehicle and have raised four children singlehandedly. All have always been employed.

I do not consider myself a dole-bludger, I am not a drug addict nor an alcoholic. Now that I am receiving Newstart, often times I have less than $70 a fortnight to buy food after paying bills. I now have credit card debt.

I attend a Jobactive office (government employment service) fortnightly. My experience with that office has included but is not limited to:

1. I was told to seek financial advice if I cannot make $579 last a fortnight after paying bills. This was after I provided the interviewer with my budget (which I have used successfully for the past 10 years) and a bank statement showing how my meagre savings had been reduced to less than $500 since becoming unemployed.

2. I was told the Newstart benefit was to be used for food, rent and job search, not luxuries.

3.  I was told that I did not need to spend money repairing a ducted air-conditioning system in my home nor the air-conditioner in my car. (These are considered luxuries, but where I live it reaches 39C constantly in summer.)

4. I was told I should consider putting down my dog as he is an unnecessary cost. I've had him for 12 years and he is my only companion since I now live alone.

5. I was told I should consider cancelling home and contents insurance and comprehensive car insurance as these are not necessary. So one doesn't protect one’s assets? Again I was told Newstart is not designed to cover assets.

6. I was told I was to be referred to Work for the Dole. I contacted my local MP's office which advised that eligibility for referral was after six months’ registration on Newstart and that as I have been registered for 3.5 months I could not be referred. I was then told by the Jobactive interviewer that in 10 weeks’ time I would not have a choice and would be referred to Work for the Dole.

Listening to Scott Morrison a few days ago, he stated “the integrity of the welfare system as we planned it will be enforced”. Surely what he meant to say is “the welfare system is planned to be a punitive system to victimise the most vulnerable in society and this now includes 60-plus-year-olds”?

Imagine the scenario where you have applied for an advertised vacancy and have been rejected – even though you have 20 years’ relevant experience in a similar role – and then you are told by your Jobactive provider that you will be forced to undertake Work for the Dole for that same non-profit organisation? 

The Work for the Dole program “is designed to develop the job-seeker’s flexibility, adaptability, communication and team work skills”, according to the National Employment Services Association.

Is it fair to assume that after working for more than 45 years that one has not already acquired these attributes and that a 60-plus jobseeker has miraculously lost these attributes within six months of becoming unemployed? 

Is it fair to assume that 60-plus job-seekers have lost the rhythm of a working life?

Is the Government pressuring 60-plus job-seekers to retire early and access their superannuation. It would miraculously manipulate the unemployment figures.

What is your stance (Senator/MP) on the 60-plus age group being forced to Work for the Dole? With an upcoming election, I would like to know.

•••

Aileen says: The Greens replied that they opposed the Work for the Dole program. A Labor MP said he supported it and suggested I access my super and retire early and/or or get a hardship payment from Centrelink because the program is ‘working’.

I wonder how many 60-plus-year-olds are aware that this is what is going to happen to them once they have been unemployed for six months and are receiving a Newstart benefit.

Have you had disappointing experiences trying to find full-time or part-time work? Has Newstart worked for you?

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    COMMENTS

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    Ted Wards
    24th Oct 2018
    10:30am
    There's only been twice in 35 years of working that I have had to access these so called employment agencies. They did not assist me in any way. In fact the last time I had already applied for 5 jobs before I could get an interview and what do you know I got offered all five jobs. Then I rang to cancel my appointment and I got "you won't be getting any newstart allowance then". My response was well I still have another three weeks to go before I am eligible for a payment. Are you interested in the reason why I am cancelling my appointment...going to the beach are we? No I applied for five jobs and have been offered them all. Dead silence,,,then me..could you please put me through to your office manager, I have a thing or two to say about your work ethic being mostly condescending........the phone suddenly went dead so I went for a visit....guess who ended up on Newstart?
    jackie
    24th Oct 2018
    11:47am
    Ted Wards...You have been lucky and so have I. Unfortunately, not everyone is. It was an eye opener when I had to deal with them and I listened to many other job seekers experiences. The entire job seeker system is corrupt.

    Government funded employment agencies don't find you work. Occasionally, they make an exception to make themselves look productive. They make sure the world knows about it.

    They receive funding to pressure you to find work on your own. When you do find yourself a job the job agency takes the credit for it and gets paid thousands of dollars from the Government for it. NOT the job seeker.

    Job seekers rarely deal with same person twice at these places because there is a strong staff turnover within these dodgy companies.

    Job network providers are middle men they should be abolished and the dole increased. So that job seekers can have more money to find themselves real jobs.

    Jobs seeking skills are taught in secondary schools, TAFES and Universities. Many have their own free job resource centres and provide help for students.

    Prior to work for the dole, over 60s were left to rot on 15 hours a week of voluntary work. None will get you paid work.

    The dole exists because there is no work for everyone. Governments could be working with the corporations they receive kickbacks from to create industry but high unemployment drives wages down and generates slave labour.
    Cowboy Jim
    24th Oct 2018
    12:00pm
    Was helped in a way back in 1984, got retrenched from a job I held for 6 years. Went every day to the Commonwealth Employment Service and had a look at their notices. Did not get the dole as my wife was still working. But patience was rewarded with a full time job.
    Mind you I was under 40 then and it was easier. Really, expecting to find a job at 65 is a bit of an ask. My sister was made redundant at 62 and had to sign on every week as well as looking for another job. That was in Europe and she could officially to on the OAP at 62.
    At the time, the unemployment rate was less than 3% where she lives but still no go. Was told anyone over 50 has no chance getting a look in.
    Old Geezer
    24th Oct 2018
    12:00pm
    Job agencies have a vested interest in keeping people on their books especially older people as they get paid more for them. If you want a job forget job agencies as they will only find jobs for those who are a liability to them ie they make little money out of. For example if I went to a job agency they would find me a job as quick as they can as I am not entitled to any welfare and therefore they get vey little for having me on their books.
    Cowboy Jim
    24th Oct 2018
    12:13pm
    Maybe that was the reason, OG, that I managed to get a job from the CES. Your assumption would make sense.
    jackie
    24th Oct 2018
    12:32pm
    Old Geezer...Government funded Job Agencies only deal with Job Seekers that are receiving money from the Government.
    Old Geezer
    24th Oct 2018
    1:05pm
    Wrong Jackie they deal with people who wish to be counted as being out of work as well.
    Sundays
    24th Oct 2018
    1:15pm
    It was a mistake to replace the CES with job network providers. Like private training companies to replace TAFE, they are just in it for the money. There is no evidence that outsourcing these functions to the private sector has improved outcomes
    Triss
    24th Oct 2018
    3:45pm
    You’re so right, Sunday’s.
    GeorgeM
    25th Oct 2018
    9:56pm
    Yes, CJ, many used CES successfully to get jobs in those days. Guess who shut it down, and outsourced the job-seeking work to private Job Network agencies (which don't deliver any results)? TONY ABBOTT, as the then Employment Minister!
    tisme
    24th Oct 2018
    11:12am
    I dont work Im an carer who cares full time for family ( the law doesn't see what I do as work ) my rent is 700.00 pf if my caring days end I will have no superannuation Im already to broken to find a job
    jennyc355
    24th Oct 2018
    11:22am
    Unfortunately if over 60 they just don’t care. I have no super as I raised family , supported husband through a few work related injuries and had n o oppurtunity to gain employment in our small town.Now hubby on dsp and I am faced with applying for newstart and told “apply”. not just search for jobs. How does one do that as all jobs ask for recent work history , qualifications and references.Can’t afford to pay for courses and as such I will be 63-64 yrs when finished and still no experience.... not enough volunteer work available to cover mutual obligations etc.. job providers don’t care .
    jackie
    24th Oct 2018
    11:56am
    jennyc355...Have a look online for FREE Government funded courses. I am sure your skills can get you carer qualifications. The TAFE will help you get a job.
    Old Geezer
    24th Oct 2018
    1:07pm
    Doo what they young kids do that don't want jobs. Apply for jobs they have no hope of ever getting as they don't have the qualifications for those jobs.
    Old Geezer
    24th Oct 2018
    11:32am
    Sounds to me like this person has super but isn't accessing it because they would lose Newstart to me. That means they have a considerable amount in super and are not in dire straights at all.
    Sundays
    24th Oct 2018
    1:24pm
    Yes, I take their point. Newstart is too low and when you’re over 60 work for the dole probably won’t get you a job. Most Australians expect that people do something to get a Newstart payment. The writer seems to imply that because they are a certain age they should be exempt. Never going to happen. The realities are harsh. I would retire and access my Super if I felt so demeaned.
    Sundays
    24th Oct 2018
    1:41pm
    I have a good friend who is over 60 and couldn’t find work. She does volunteer work aka work for the dole to receive Newstart. It’s a top up as her husband works part time for low wages. She works for a charity and loves it! Her and her husband get by, and take a small lump sum from Super each year to pay bills. Maybe a change in mindset is needed.
    Dave R
    24th Oct 2018
    11:33am
    Part of the reason for these problems was raising the pension age to 67. This has reduced the opportunities for anyone unemployed to find work. Also job search allowance is too low, much less than a pension.
    jackie
    24th Oct 2018
    12:05pm
    Dave R...Retirement age should be 65 and jobs left to the younger citizens.

    Age discrimination: Over 50s search twice as long for work than 15-24yos.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-19/age-discrimination-over-50s-worst-bracket-to-be-unemployed/8540548
    Tzuki
    24th Oct 2018
    11:34am
    I was retrenched at 60 after working casually at the same job for 8 years and received no payout. I have worked all my life. I haven't been able to find a job for over 3 years, even though I have applied for hundreds, got interviewed for jobs I am perfect for, and knocked back. It doesn't help at all when the interviewers are in their 30's and have parents my age. There is absolutely discrimination against older people! I cannot claim Workstart and get no assistance to find a job from the Govt, because my husband is presently working. Even so, we are struggling to pay the bills every week.

    I can't imagine trying to live on $500+ a fortnight! It is like the Government is punishing the older generation. They forget who paid their wages for 40+ years. What happened to respect for each other? That is disgusting! We need a politician to support us.....
    johnp
    24th Oct 2018
    11:42am
    Absolutely disgusting !! Time for some sort of a revolution !! VOTE ALL SITTING MEMBERS OUT !!
    Triss
    24th Oct 2018
    3:53pm
    I’ll certainly be doing that at the next election, johnp.
    anonysubscribe
    24th Oct 2018
    11:45am
    the callousness of public servants and their ministers is the reality which is unheard over the blaring blatant political correctness of the neorliberal right governments we have had.
    Thoughtful
    24th Oct 2018
    12:02pm
    In most cases these "employment" agencies are a waste of time and the money that is funding them. Typical of a society where people in work cannot possibly relate to the problems faced by those affected by job loss - especially in the more senior years. I used to be one of them. As far as I can tell the problem will only intensify.Fewer jobs ( due to technology and the fact that women now need to work fulltime ) and a growing population. Jobs moving offshore. Old prejudices remaining. Our welfare system is so outdated! Change can only happen when an ever growing percentage of the population is affected.
    jackie
    24th Oct 2018
    12:11pm
    Thoughtful....Getting rid of welfare is the solution for this Government. That is why it keeps bringing in welfare needy people into the country by plane through the front door.
    Cowboy Jim
    24th Oct 2018
    12:06pm
    Some years ago the unemployment figures were manipulated with a payment for over 60s who could not find work. Was called the Mature Age Allowance. Quite a few oldies were on it where I live and told me about it. Was lower than the age pension and the people had to get by with it till 65 years of age. All participants no longer showed up in the unemployment statistics. Any of you oldies remember that?
    jackie
    24th Oct 2018
    12:22pm
    Cowboy Jim....I remember that..

    The Government won't acknowledge many 60+ Australians are sick and incapable of holding down work. They aren't entitled to DSP and are ditched on the dole to rot.

    This would be affecting many women with no super who had spent many years out of the workforce due to family commitments.

    Governments have gone down this track because its not generating Australian industries and many new comers to this country end up on welfare too.
    missmarg
    24th Oct 2018
    1:14pm
    I started work at 16 (am now 71) and worked all my life except for a few years when my children when young. When I was 68 I unfortunately had to leave my employment due to health reasons (which Centrelink didn't recognise). I had to present myself to Centrelink once a week and do job searches. I attended a group discussion one week conducted by someone who had probably just finished uni - all the attendees were of the same group. One of the ladies had nursed her mother till she passed away and was trying to get back into the workforce (she had other qualifications besides nursing her mother) and the youngster running the course suggested she get a job in a nursing home. I spent many a day in tears dealing with Centrelink and its offshoots and also had my payments suspended after someone incorrectly entered my wages (I managed to get a few days here and there doing office work - on my own, with no help from Centrelink) - they had entered that I had received over $2000 in wages in one week! Thankfully it was sorted out reasonably quickly but no apology was ever offered. I eventually found causal work by myself working when needed with a law firm in the city (I was a legal secretary) until I reached the age where I could legally require and claim the aged pension.
    Cowboy Jim
    24th Oct 2018
    1:35pm
    Surely not at 68 you had to present to Centrelink to do job searches, that will possibly happen in the future.
    missmarg
    24th Oct 2018
    1:49pm
    whoops - that should been 61! not 68 - I wasn't eligible for the aged pension so that was why I had to keep applying for work.
    sunnyOz
    24th Oct 2018
    10:46pm
    Missmarg - I was in a similar situation with incorrect info at Centrelink. Soon after going on the Aged Pension, I got a 2 day a week temp job for 4 months. Before hand, I went in to the CL office and clearly explained what was happening, etc.I told them I would be working 5 days a week for the first week for training. I advised my earnings - so what did they do? Immediately cancelled my Aged Pension because for the period of 10 working days, it showed I had worked for 7.
    I had to go in to the CL office and sit down and show THEM the correct calculations. I wrote blistering complaints to the Relevant Minister (no response) and the head dude of CL - did get it reversed. But the lack of correct information and constant errors made by CL was appalling.
    Pooshka
    24th Oct 2018
    2:04pm
    Old Geeezer your assumption I have a lot of Super and/or assets is incorrect. I have less than $125000 in Super and if am intimidated to use it now what will my future be like?
    inextratime
    24th Oct 2018
    2:20pm
    Don't worry about OG Pooshka. He is the epitome of an "I'm allright Jack" so why isn't everyone else. I gave up taking any notice of his BS ages ago.
    Old Geezer
    24th Oct 2018
    2:22pm
    I did look like we were only getting half the story and it is not uncommon for people to have lots of super and leave it in the accumulation phase so they can get Newstart.

    Those who retired early now accessing their super will put it back into accumulation phase so they can get Newstart if Labor gets it's non refund of franking credits policy through parliament.
    Old Geezer
    24th Oct 2018
    2:25pm
    Inextreme there is only one thing I can say that it usually takes a bigger one to know one.

    Ever wondered how I got where I am today? No lottery wins for me but lots of hard work instead. Maybe you could learn a thing or two.
    johnp
    24th Oct 2018
    2:31pm
    Agree 100% with inextratime !!
    Old Geezer
    24th Oct 2018
    2:43pm
    Ha ha

    ROFL
    OlderandWiser
    24th Oct 2018
    8:08pm
    Inexstratime is spot on, sadly. And I suspect the vast majority here agree 100%. OG, you are a nasty individual who trades on wild assumptions that suit your self-serving purposes. Your posts evidence that you are incapable of empathy, or even basic human decency.
    Old Geezer
    25th Oct 2018
    10:10am
    Ha ha another personal attack.
    vinradio
    24th Oct 2018
    2:52pm
    I was on Newstart for 4 years (61-65), had to do voluntary work for 15 hours a week but had to give that up when I got breast cancer for the second time, and in all that time, Inever received any offers of work, except for one 10 week contract. I applied for hundreds of jobs, and only had 3 interviews in all that time. I also was urged to apply for DSP by a family member, who was also a GP, guess what happened with that! Many of the jobsearch agency people i worked with were about 20, and though some were older, none of them were helpful in getting me a job, but they were civil, and polite. I had used up all my super in that 4 years, as I had to rent privately, and part of that time I was supporting my son financially too. I was extremely pleased when i went onto the Age pension, as it gave me about $300 more per fortnight, and in 2016 I managed to find a private, church affiliated unit, at a very low rent, so life has certainly improved, but being over 50 (some say 40) and being on Newstart is tough!
    Possum
    24th Oct 2018
    3:56pm
    Do volunteer work for a registered organisation eg community transport minimum 16 hours a week and you don't get hassled about looking for work until you're eligible to put in claim for Aged pension
    Triss
    24th Oct 2018
    4:04pm
    As so many writers here have come up against ageism and government it seems to be time for something drastic. Write (not email) to the PM’s office and insist that as he wants you to work but no one else does then you must be given a job in a government department...Centrelink would be a good start.
    OlderandWiser
    24th Oct 2018
    8:10pm
    Sadly, any letter that doesn't lavish idle praise on the PM will be assigned to the ''round file''. Politicians - and I mean ALL of them - just don't care about anything but the next election and their ongoing paycheck. Oh, except maybe over-indulging friends and colleagues who will do then favours.
    Old Man
    24th Oct 2018
    4:39pm
    I can't see why a person should be forced to 1) put down a companion animal, 2) stop necessary repairs to the family home, 3) necessary repairs to the family car and, most importantly, 4) insuring the two most expensive assets that a family has. I also note that "luxuries" are mentioned without describing what a government employee defines as a "luxury" item.

    To suggest that a person uses their super to top up fortnightly income is against all that compulsory super was designed to do. I can't believe that a government employee would be authorised to make such a demand. I was retrenched after 30 years and made hundreds of applications for work which I was qualified for under the application criteria. Less than 10% acknowledged that I had applied and about 1 in 10 of those called for an interview. I was sure my age was a problem but this is almost impossible to prove.

    I can't offer any answers to ageism problems as employers are way ahead of the game when it comes to proving that an applicant was overlooked because of age. We all know it exists but how to prove that it exists is a horse of a different colour.
    Charlie
    24th Oct 2018
    6:26pm
    What I don't get about this story is..Why is a 65 yo on new start, when they are eligible for age pension. Centrelink doesn't find you a job anymore. That's no longer one of their roles.

    If you were on disability pension you would also get kicked out of any disability job search agencies, because of turning 65 yo

    I agree with the basic complaint, no business will employ a person 60 yo with even less chance of getting casual work.

    A person is expected to have super which you are allowed to draw from the age of 55 if you have no permanent employment.

    But arrange for some kind of small payments or they will get you on bank interest if the money goes in the bank and other sneaky dole conditions.

    Losing employment on the lead up to age pension can be very expensive.
    Old Geezer
    25th Oct 2018
    10:13am
    There is a lot more to this story than we are being told.
    Pooshka
    25th Oct 2018
    6:43pm
    Charlie I am not eligible for the Pension until 65.5 yrs of age and before you suggest it no I cannot afford to retire.
    Old Geezer don't know what sought of story you'd like to imagine but there isn't any. This is it.
    MD
    24th Oct 2018
    8:59pm
    I'm continually perplexed why people have some vague idea about what's considered 'fair' (reference to para openers - "Is it fair"). Is the author implying she is being treated unfairly? Newstart allowance/payment certainly wont land anybody in the lap of luxury and never was considered adequate to meet the costs of each and every claimants expectations - be they bung aircon units, a 12y.o dog or various insurances.

    Credit card debt? What the... a bleedin heart is one thing, stupidity another matter entirely. The author should give serious consideration to seeking advise re the super nest egg, whatever the value.

    People (in some instances former professionals/semi-professionals) have been known to uproot, move interstate/overseas and take on menial work - the extreme opposite of their former occupation - with all the associated hardships and tribulations...and happy to get on with the next chapter in their life.

    Life is what you make of it and I'd imagine it's no mean feat making a go of it on Newstart but don't be disillusioned into thinking the social safety net should measure up to your expectations. Make the necessary adjustments to meet the circumstances rather than expecting the circumstance to adjust to your expectations.
    Pooshka
    25th Oct 2018
    5:53am
    MD is it fair to say you did not read the article correctly? Perhaps in all the years you worked you may be the one in a million who did not develop/acquire the attributes/skills Work For The Dole is supposedly designed to develop. Is it fair to assume you wouldn't mind being FORCED to work for the Dole when in fact it is voluntary for 60 plus aged job seekers to participate and you wouldn't mind that the Job Active provider is misleading you? If you read the article without bias and in context you may understand that there is "no bleeding heart" holding the pen and no sob story being told just the cold hard facts being relayed.
    Old Geezer
    25th Oct 2018
    10:11am
    A friend of mine has a business that has work for the dole people who work for him. If he pays them cash they work if not then they do nothing.
    Pooshka
    25th Oct 2018
    11:08am
    I hope they are reporting the income they earn. I'm not sure if what is happening is ethical in your friends workplace.
    johnp
    25th Oct 2018
    2:33pm
    so whats the problem with cash ??
    Knows-a-lot
    25th Oct 2018
    7:57am
    Ageism is alive and well. And the sooner we kick out the verminous Lieberal government, the better.
    Old Geezer
    25th Oct 2018
    10:08am
    Be careful what you wish for.
    johnp
    25th Oct 2018
    2:31pm
    Why is that OG ??
    OlderandWiser
    25th Oct 2018
    3:01pm
    Because the ALP will do untold harm unless they ditch their stupid policies like the proposed ''franking credit reform'' which will force thousands of SFRs onto pensions, take NOTHING at all from the wealthy (contrary to Shorten's lies - which anyone with intelligence should see through after even just a cursory examination of facts) and take billions out of Australian companies, thus reducing economic growth and increasing unemployment.
    GeorgeM
    25th Oct 2018
    9:58pm
    Time for people to revolt, and insist on Universal Pension from Age 65!
    Write to your MPs, and turf them out (vote last in preferences) if they don't agree to push for this.


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