It seems that the long-term unemployed, facing the unsavoury choice of work for the dole and with no other recourse but to accept whatever draconian conditions the Australian government forces upon them, have been using the overwhelming bureaucracy of the welfare system to their advantage.
The system currently works thus: after what is deemed to be enough time suckling at the welfare teat it is decided that some form of Mutual Obligation on the part of the recipient is necessary.
The Mutual Obligation activity, in whatever form it takes, offers some sort of training, rudimentary though it often is; also, on a more mollifying level, it offers taxpayers the reassurance that their money, which could - should - be funding tax breaks for the rich, isn’t being misused.
The scam is performed thus: when notified that their presence is required to determine exactly what Mutual Obligation activity they will be obliged to complete, the recipients call up and regretfully state that, for one reason or another, they will not be able to make it to the interview.
Then, given the backlog of papers that must be stamped, calls that must be made and coffee that must be drunk at most Centrelink offices, it is often the case that the next possible appointment can only be made for a month in the future.
This earns the youth a slight reprieve.
Now that the cat is out of the bag, however, Centrelink is attempting to counter this by sending out two letters; letters with appointment dates that do not coincide.
This is done with the expectation that at least one appointment will be attended.
Written on Tuesday, 8 July 2003