Centrelink

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Work for the Dole – Part 2

Published July 20, 2018 by helentastic67

Work for the Dole Part 2

Work for the Dole – Part 2

When I worked in Work for the Dole, also nicknamed by many as Work for the Coffee Scroll (amongst others) and when I would deal with clients, I often had to talk fast to deliver information, ask questions, head off their “Oh poor me” “reactionary responses.”

Oh Poor Me

The method to which I would do HR (Human Resources) for example went like this;

“What kind of work have you done previously? Study, training?”

“What kind of work do you want to do in the future?”

Now, I hit them quickly with these questions because in my area, the north of Melbourne at the time (2003-2005) many of my clients were lucky to have finished Year 12, which is the end of High School.

Finish school

I don’t know about everywhere else in the world or the history in the world but completing Year 12 alone doesn’t set anybody up for much in life.

The answers I would often be given was that they had experience as a gardener (lawn mowing, etc) but they didn’t want to do anymore gardening as they complained of a bad back and they had no preference what kind of work they wanted to do.

Gardening

Now, I was good at my job (yes, I’m bragging) but I couldn’t pluck a job or career out of nothing. They needed to give me something and I can guarantee “those clients” were still doing gardening and getting paid cash. Which they were not paying tax or declaring to Centrelink, which would have in time meant they wouldn’t be required to do Woke for the Dole.

Working for cash

So, on this particular day, this client was very slow in answering and no matter the questions I asked, he couldn’t seem to get his head around what I want of him. I worked it out that he needed me to speak slower and ask one question at a time. It was a very slow and painful process, probably more for him than me, as it turns out. He spoke very slowly and haltering.

Speak slower

I later debriefed Frank that the client might have had a car accident or fried his brain on drugs. I knew neither at the time nor did I know much of anything to do with ABI/TBI/etc.

ABI TBI

What I was able to work out from his answers, was he had experience in gardening, but wanted to be a mechanic. He lived miles from anywhere but would ride his bike to any work I found for him. (He also didn’t want to do gardening) but I had to be creative as there were little if any Not for Profit’s in the area so much was his isolation to anything really. Any wonder he couldn’t find work.

Mechanic

So, I got on the phone and asked questions of people, made some new friends and found my young client a placement. Winning! Again, keep in mind, limited options.

I found him a little placement doing some gardening around a monument on the edge of the road. An older gentleman was to keep an eye on him. He wasn’t to baby sit him but monitor him several times over the two days (15 hours) per week and make sure he knocked off each day at an appropriate time.

Gardening Monument

It was probably an easy task for him and rather quiet and lonely, but I also think it was what he needed at the time, knowing what I know now.

Frank told me later, not having done the interview with the client but being told by the person who did that, he had huge scars on his skull and I imagine he probably shouldn’t have been required to do anymore than take time out and “recover”. But anyway, that did not happen.

Recovery time

One day, some time later, I was in the outer office with the two other ladies that worked there, this particular day, Frank was working from his office. He called out

“Hey Helen?”

“Yes Frank?”

“I love you”

I love you

Thinking What? “Sexual harassment in the work place? What is this?”

Now, to say all those things, would be an injustice. Frank is a nice, married man, Italian Catholic man with two young children (at the time) and I knew he wasn’t creepy. So, I call back,

“I love you too Frank”

I looked around at the two other women and they gave nothing away and I got up and stuck my head around the door into his office. It would seem that client I had worked really hard to get him a placement, they had helped the guy out and helped him get an apprenticeship as a mechanic.

Apprentice mechanic

Now, clients would come and go.

Swedish Warehouse

Published August 18, 2017 by helentastic67

Swedish Warehouse

Swedish Warehouse

This week I had to deliver some paperwork to Stupidlink, inconvenient as that is, as I refuse to go to my local office, I have to go by car to an office in another area. Clearly, I don’t have to go very often, but as I refuse to do this stuff on-line (wanting people to have actual jobs) I had to go in.

My friend (not sure she wishes to be named) Jane told me she would read her book (while seated in her car directly in front of the office) Handicapped parking permit finally something about a permanent disability that pays off.

Stupidlink on Monday around 2.30pm was rather spartan in this neighbourhood and has undergone renovations at front of house since last, I was there.

Centrelink

There is no longer a reception desk and a queue. There is now a staff who comes out with an iPad to take your CRN (Customer Reference Number) and to put you in an electronic queue. There is just one woman standing to one side at the lectern type desk, who literally does the same thing on an iPad on the desk.

As I was discussing whether it was worth waiting an hour to give my forms to someone else and book my JCA (Job Capacity Assessment) appointment or just give her the forms and be on hold later in the week.

JCA

The argument internally, was that I could be much more productive at home on hold to Stupidlink on speaker than sitting there when Jane came in from behind and cuddled up behind me.

There was a time friends would do this a lot and get away with it. But at first, I wasn’t sure who it actually was. The voice said “Just wondering how long you would be?”

The staff member looked at me strangely, Jane moved around to my right side so I could see her and she repeated her question stating she needed to go to Ikea as it was close by.

Ikea

I think my eyes very much expressed how little I wanted to wait there when she would be visiting my favourite shop to visit in that vicinity.

I told her I would go with her. Because as I said to the staff member “you cannot say the word Ikea and expect me not to want to go too.”

Visitin Ikea

Of course, we left and three days later, of course they had not yet scanned in the entered documents I had delivered and they had damn well better. (I did keep copies, just in case obviously).

Off to the Swedish Warehouse we go. I no longer do the showroom, if I can help it. What’s the point? Noelle states it perfectly, she hates any shop she can’t find her way out of. We entered through the checkouts (they must hate us.) and headed into the “scratch and dirt seconds’ area” and after a little browsing we found an orchid.

Lost in Ikea

They were practically giving them away. Jane had picked it up, discovered one flower stalk was broken and had put it down and moved on. I had indicated I really wanted it. There were a few other people quietly moving around checking out the other great finds.

Orchids

In controlled areas that are not busy I will walk without relying on my walking stick, leaning it to dangle by my wrist. I called after Jane and said “What’s that? I can have it if I can carry it?”

She and the other people (not that many) had a little chuckle. I confess to say I do like to rescue plants from their gardening level as it’s completely indoors with no natural light.

So that orchid now lives on my kitchen window ledge. Jane bought some doors and bookcases and I really hope she didn’t require an Alan-Key.

Ikea assembly

Review

Published July 21, 2017 by helentastic67

Review time

Review

Because I don’t have enough on my plate! Remember all those things I was advocating? Well, shit just got more real!

Who wants the purest definition of a Permanent Disability? Well, Centrelink, the Government agency that pays my Disability Support Pension. They want to review my pension.

Centrelink

This also requires me to attend a JCA appointment. Sorry another acronym. The worlds in full of them. Job Capacity Assessment.

Firstly, they head up a staircase, I stay at the bottom and say to her (It’s generally a her) I don’t do stairs. She comes back down and we both go up in the lift. It’s like the first test to see if I’m really disabled. One point, Helen, JCA staff – zero.

Stairs

Hopefully they will assess my specialist reports and meet me so I can explain what it’s like just to sit in their office and they will be happy. Permanent is permanent.

Well, as reported recently that Stupidlink did decide I was still eligible for my DSP, it’s just that it took them 18 months to work this out? Maybe not quite that long but it felt that long.

As I like to explain Brain Injury. You can’t unscramble an egg!!!

Unscramble eggs

Hot off the Press – 24th April 2017

Published April 24, 2017 by helentastic67

Hot off the Press 240417

Hot off the Press!

Another weekend has passed. Sadly, there is much ‘admin’ I still did not get to.
Including going back to revisit and edit last Friday’s post.

Autumn has settled in Melbourne and I had my first weekend of my lounge resembling a Chinese laundry. Right now, it’s Sunday night and I need to go to sleep before 3am, as has been the habit the last few nights. I have just not been able to switch off. I have however been catching up with some old friends. Making new friends, getting to know them and saying good bye until another season. I am, of course referring to my TV shows. Been doing some serious catch up. The basics go like this;
The Shooter, meh? It’s good. But you can live without it. If you are scratching around for something to entertain you, then give it a go. It’s 10 episodes so not a huge commitment.

Watching TV

Next, Blacklist Redemption, if you haven’t seen Blacklist then get it together. If your debating the spin-off. Must watch! It’s 8 episodes and you will want more but be ok that it’s a short and sweet season. Lastly, I caught up on Suits, I kinda save the best to last with this one. If you haven’t seen any of it I’m not going to tell you too much except to say watch it. Nice guy screwed over by the system? Trying to do good, not in the mood much for critiquing sadly.

Finally switched off the brain tonight and forced myself to single task. I put on the 2016 reboot of the film Hackers. You know the 90’s original is how Angelina and Johnny Lee Miller met and later married. Great setting in New York and even better soundtrack. This version, not so much. I don’t think I’ll be watching it over and over again like the original. Next!

Switching off Brain 1

Off to the city to see my shrink tomorrow. I prefer to use that term (more fun) although to be fair she is a Psychologist/Social Worker. I’ve been seeing her for 10 years and I’m still not ‘fixed!’ (A little mental health humour)

My weekdays, are becoming very busy. Autumn has meant it gets dark around 6pm and that means I try to be home around 5pm. Most of my appointments out of the house are around what ‘normal’ people consider lunchtime to mid-afternoon. Lately, I’ve had to scramble home to be collected to go to an inspection to see properties while in my price range are tiny shoeboxes. I just want to hurry up and relocate so I can get my new fur-baby or just settle in and stay here.
Then of course, I’ve been getting another carer around dinner time to help with food prep. That could be actual food prep or admin or folding clothes to be perfectly clear. I’ve even started outsourcing the preparation of my pill containers. Everything in the effort not to be still doing emails at midnight. Such is this rubbish form of retirement I find myself doing.

On the upside, after an 18-month period where Stupidlink have struggled to do much right, they did finally    decided I am still eligible for my Disability Support Pension. Good for them, right? I did walk into a Stupidlink with my Mum and announce who I was and that I was sorry I was late for my JCA (Job Capacity Assessment) appointment and the staff member replied that, that was for people with a disability! I motioned to my arm in the sling, my walking stick and the badges explaining my low vision. I’m sure I gave her a frown and she apologised. Hidden disability or just plain stupid, I ask you?

Anyway, the cold has gone but the little wheezy cough has returned, not happy at all.
Oh, one last thing before signing off, I visited a pet shop a few weeks ago. No, not the kind with cages and pets for sale, but the kind with pet food and grain and such. I knew they had a cat in residence perhaps to help with mice and such? I went to have a pat and perhaps some ‘Love’ (not meaning to be creepy) that cat was so fickle! Must have sensed the recent grief from losing Jamima wash over me and that cat wouldn’t come near me.

To the start of a new week! Charge!

New week

Music on Hold

Published March 15, 2017 by helentastic67

Music on Hold 1

Music on Hold

Music! The making of serial killers. The Australian Government Agency, then manages the distribution of welfare is called Centrelink. The nickname a friend used to call it was ‘Stupidlink’ which is a much politer version that what most people call it.

What I’ve found is if you are respectful, they will help you. This is when you get to speak to someone in their call centre. I put off calling them until I absolutely have to, because there’s nothing like being on hold for an hour just to tell them nothing has changed. I’m still poor, I still have a disability and I’m still living on the edge.

And that’s all after being tortured by the ‘On hold music’. I get the fact that the classical music chosen is meant to soothe, but it’s too busy! It’s too busy, and I can imagine people with serious mental health issues would want to kill themselves.

I like to refer to it as the music that is the making of serial killers.

Music on Hold 2

Life

Published December 16, 2016 by helentastic67

life-wallpaper

Life!

So, it occurs to me that while I often have a humorous bent and way to write about things, I often write when I’m in the mood to write.

Right now, I definitely don’t much care to write. I feel on top of the usual “seedy” and left eye barely able to see, my stomach is really not helping.

So, it’s probably, with all the thoughts buzzing in my mind the most perfect time to vent my thoughts.

thoughts-in-head

Last Friday, I received some good news. I won my 2nd appeal to Stupidlink (my friends G-rated term for Australia’s Government Pension Provider) for a debt and it looked like I wouldn’t have to pay it back for the next 25 God damned years of my life.

phone-with-centrelink-1

I know, I hear you saying ‘Get a Goddamned job Cow!’ But it’s not that easy.

Keeping in mind, I have this ‘debt’ because I earn a small pension from my Superfund because my disability is permanent life-long injury and I’m unable to go back to work.

Part of the debt was forgiven due to Stupidlink losing my forms when I declared them, 5 years ago!

And for the last 5 years this ‘extra income’ has allowed me to afford (what I now term as simple luxuries) paying my rent on time.

Keeping the lights on.

Living alone because housemates like to free load, because they think I’ve got a sweet life and they want to hitch a ride.

No seriously, as fucked up as that sounds, it happened!

Apparently eating, I thought I’d be able to keep doing that!

And over weekend I took a deep sigh of relief that for once the Universe was looking after me and I could afford to continue/or return to be able to do all of the above.

Today, I received a letter. I decided to do call straight away to follow it up! The letter was to prompt me to do just that in the hope that I had miraculously come into some income or wealth where I could start repaying more of the debt every fortnight.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – I hear myself say?

wtf

Um, I mention the letter I received only last Friday (today is Monday), that said debt had been waivered!

There was no note of it on the system and apparently after a call to the appropriate people came back with the information that they have until the 31st May to appeal the decision and it looks like they will do that!

More questioning on my part and it looks like I have to cry ‘poor’ in another round!

So, feeling overwhelmingly tired and sick to my stomach, I did what I always do when life gets stressful.

I went to bed!

I woke hours later not feeling much better and questioning how I can live on less, what decisions I am supposed to make to make the Government able to cripple me a little more.

Let’s see;

Do I give up my Friday Custard Scroll? That’s $3.30

I really can only tell the week is over when I wrap the week with a coffee and Custard Scroll on Friday afternoon.

That will take a long time at $3.30 per week.

I guess I can live without those things, but they are literally the only nice things I get/do each week to make life in some way more livable.

I’ll just say, it makes me happy!

Is it too much to ask to be a little happy?

stressed-cat2

Ignorance is Bliss

Published November 28, 2016 by helentastic67

ignorance-is-bliss-2

Ignorance is Bliss!

I love when people give me advice, when they have no idea how the system works! Let me premise this by saying I will never starve to death! I can’t do eating disorder because I like and respect food! And while I’m no longer a neat size 10. (Shuddup! I’m not in my 20’s anymore either) I’m about two months from starving to death. (I have a little insulation) People love to give me cost cutting measures.

Thin to fat

It goes like this; why don’t you get food vouchers? Or there are places you can go to get free meals?

Well, I find myself explaining to them.

Once upon a time ‘kids’ who spent all their money on hairspray and clubbing would go to every welfare group around town to get food vouchers.

Food Vouchers

These days, they are all way to savvy for that and you can only generally go to the ones where you fall under their ‘catchment’ You produce a HCC (Health Care Card) which shows your address.

I ring mine to book an appointment to see them. I have to be prepared and take an income statement from Centrelink. That’s an hour on the phone right there. (Of my life I’ll never get back) Helps if you have a fax number so it can be faxed to the agency.

centrelink-1

Some welfare organisations you just turn up one morning during the week. They might not open until 10am and they have 4 vouchers. Usually 2 x $20.00 each and you can only go ONCE A YEAR!

STOP HELPING!!!

stop-helping

 

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