Australian Unemployed Workers' Union

10,019 supporters

A union run by the unemployed, for the unemployed.

Started 7 petitions

Petitioning Nick Xenophon

Vote Down Punitive and Dangerous Welfare Reform Bill

Dear Nick Xenophon Team, I would like to inform you of my grave concerns regarding the Welfare Reform Bill 2017. As the President of the Australian Unemployed Workers' Union , I believe I can offer you an insight into the reality of unemployment that no advisor can. I hope this letter will give you an opportunity to pause and reflect on how these Bills will negatively effect the lives of hundreds of thousands of unemployed Australians. It’s the least you can do. I wish to point out in the strongest possible terms that this Bill is a cruel and dangerous attack on the dignity and wellbeing of the unemployed – people who have been shut out of the labour market due to no fault of their own. If passed, this Bill will achieve what successive governments have been trying to accomplish for decades – the breakdown and privatisation of our social security system.  In particular, I wish to highlight my concerns over the government’s plan to impose harsh and punitive requirements on Newstart recipients such as myself, which will: subject all unemployed workers to the punitive demerit point compliance system, which in the majority of cases will remove government oversight and deny unemployed Australians their right to appeal decisions; extend the waiting period for Newstart, forcing new applicants to miss out on their first payment (up to $770);  require unemployed workers over 30 to attend significantly more hours at a Work for the Dole activity, despite this program being revealed to be dangerous and ineffective by two separate government-commissioned reports; I believe these changes represent some of the most significant attacks ever launched against the unemployed since the introduction of the welfare state. These are changes that will force hundreds of thousands of Australians over the age of 30 to attend 50% more hours at Work for the Dole. This is in spite of the fact that Work for the Dole is widely known to be dangerous and pointless.  Between 2014 and 2016, Work for the Dole injuries increased five times. Josh Park-Fing tragically died at his Work for the Dole site in 2016. Before his death, Josh had suffered an injury at the site yet was forced to continue or face being penalised. Even the government's own reports admit that 64% of sites do not meet basic safety standards and that the program increases the chances of the unemployed finding work by only 2%. These are changes, which, for the first time ever, will hand the $10 billion mostly for-profit employment services industry the power to make compliance decisions. This industry is already failing to enforce the compliance system fairly. As noted recently by the National Welfare Rights Network, almost half of job agency compliance reports are rejected by Centrelink because they were unfair. This widespread illegality has to be one of the largest frauds ever perpetrated a Federal government. And yet the government is responding by giving them more power. Denying unemployed workers the power to appeal against these penalties in such a dysfunctional system is opening up unemployed workers to a world of abuse. In light of the increased Work for the Dole requirements, this change will not only lead  to more unemployed people being penalised unfairly, but will also make it almost impossible for unemployed workers to raise safety concerns at their Work for the Dole site. This is a disaster waiting to happen.Already the compliance system is out of control - in 2015-16, the number of penalties imposed by the $10 billion employment services industry exceeded two million for the first time – a seven-fold since 2011. Why is the government removing the checks and balances in an already dysfunctional and punitive system? And finally, these are changes that will make it harder for the unemployed to survive on Newstart – a payment that is already $390 per fortnight below the poverty line. This attempt to to push Newstart applicants deeper into poverty is nothing short of an act of violence. As a party claiming to be the "common sense alternative", why are you willing to put your name to such cruel and punitive policies? Unemployed people are already struggling enough as it is. This Bill will kick them while they are down.Is this what the Nick Xenophon Team stand for? The unemployed are struggling to find work when, going by government figures, there are around 17 other people competing for that job. They are struggling to survive in an overly punitive and completely dysfunctional employment services industry. They are struggling to live on the starvation rate of Newstart. This payment was initially designed to support people for short periods between jobs. Politicians need to wake up to the reality that being unemployed is far from temporary in Australia. The average time people spend on Newstart is over four years.  Does the Nick Xenophon Team think its fair for hundreds of thousands of Australians to be attacked in this way simply because they find themselves in a society which has locked them out of the labour market?  Will the Nick Xenophon Team stand by this Bill if there is another Work for the Dole death? As you hold the balance of power in the Senate, your party has the power to vote down this Bill. On behalf of the 880,000 Australians on Newstart and Youth Allowance attending job agencies – and the 1.2 million Australians in insecure employment and at constant risk of unemployment – I ask you, vote down this Bill.The lives of the unemployed depend on it. Look forwarding to hearing from you. Sincerely, Owen BennettPresidentAustralian Unemployed Workers Union

Australian Unemployed Workers' Union
941 supporters
Petitioning Nick Xenophon

Vote Down Attacks on Unemployed

 Dear Nick Xenophon Team,I would like to inform you of my grave concerns regarding the Welfare Reform Bill 2017. As an unemployed Australian who has been receiving Newstart on and off for a number of years, I believe I can offer you an insight into the reality of unemployment that no advisor can. I hope this letter will give you an opportunity to pause and reflect on how these Bills will negatively effect the lives of hundreds of thousands of unemployed Australians. It’s the least you can do. I wish to point out in the strongest possible terms that this Bill is a cruel and dangerous attack on the dignity and wellbeing of the unemployed – people who have been shut out of the labour market due to no fault of their own. If passed, this Bill will achieve what successive governments have been trying to accomplish for decades – the breakdown and privatisation of our social security system. In particular, I wish to highlight my concerns over the government’s plan to impose harsh and punitive requirements on Newstart recipients such as myself, which will: subject all unemployed workers to the punitive demerit point compliance system, which in the majority of cases will remove government oversight and deny unemployed Australians their right to appeal decisions; extend the waiting period for Newstart, forcing new applicants to miss out on their first payment (up to $770);  require unemployed workers over 30 to attend significantly more hours at a Work for the Dole activity, despite this program being revealed to be dangerous and ineffective by two separate government-commissioned reports; I believe these changes represent some of the most significant attacks ever launched against the unemployed since the introduction of the welfare state. These are changes that will force hundreds of thousands of Australians over the age of 30 to attend 50% more hours at Work for the Dole. This is in spite of the fact that Work for the Dole is widely known to be dangerous and pointless. Between 2014 and 2016, Work for the Dole injuries increased five times. Josh Park-Fing tragically died at his Work for the Dole site in 2016. Before his death, Josh had suffered an injury at the site yet was forced to continue or face being penalised. Even the government's own reports admit that 64% of sites do not meet basic safety standards and that the program increases the chances of the unemployed finding work by only 2%.These are changes, which, for the first time ever, will hand the $10 billion mostly for-profit employment services industry the power to make compliance decisions. This industry is already failing to enforce the compliance system fairly. As noted recently by the National Welfare Rights Network, almost half of job agency compliance reports were rejected by Centrelink.Denying unemployed workers the power to appeal compliance decisions in such a dysfunctional system is opening up unemployed workers to abuse. In light of the increased Work for the Dole requirements, this change will lead not only to more unemployed people being penalised unfairly, but will make it almost impossible for unemployed workers to raise safety concerns at their Work for the Dole site. This is a disaster waiting to happen. And finally, these are changes that will make it harder for the unemployed to survive on Newstart – a payment that is already $390 per fortnight below the poverty line. This attempt to to push Newstart applicants deeper into poverty is nothing short of an act of violence.As a Senator representing the Australian people you need to ask yourself – are you willing to put your name to such cruel and punitive changes?Is this the sort of policies that the Nick Xenophon Team stand for? Unemployed people, like myself, are already struggling enough as it is.  We are struggling to complete with trying to find work when, going by government figures, there are around 17 other people competing for that job.We are struggling to survive in an overly punitive and completely dysfunctional employment services industry, a system in which the government pays private companies $10 billion to punish us.In my entire history with job agencies – spanning more than 10 years – I have never been put forward for one single job or been helped in anyway. I have, however, been unfairly penalised multiple time and forced to attend many hours at pointless and dangerous Work for the Dole activities. My experience is backed up by the data. In 2015-16, the number of penalties imposed by the $10 billion employment services industry exceeded two million for the first time – a seven-fold since 2011. Why is the government removing the checks and balances in an already dysfunctional and punitive system?  And most of all, we are struggling to live year after year on the paltry Newstart even though this payment was designed to support people for short periods of time in between jobs. Politicians need to wake up to the reality that being unemployed is far from temporary in Australia. The average time people spend on Newstart is over four years.  Do you think its fair for hundreds of thousands of Australians to be attacked in this way simply because they find themselves in a society which has locked them out of the labour market? Will you be able to live with yourself if there is another Work for the Dole death?We need support, not further punishment. As you hold the balance of power in the Senate, your party has the power to vote down this Bill. On behalf of the 880,000 Australians on Newstart and Youth Allowance attending job agencies – and the 1.2 million Australians in insecure employment and at constant risk of unemployment – I ask you, vote down this Bill.Look forwarding to hearing from you. Sincerely,Owen BennettPresidentAustralian Unemployed Workers Union

Australian Unemployed Workers' Union
3 supporters
Petitioning Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull

Scrap Broken Compliance System for Unemployed

In the lead up to the 2017-18 budget, the Turnbull Government have proposed implementing a 'demerit points system' to give job agencies and Centrelink more powers to financially penalise the unemployed. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Already the compliance system is overly punitive and out of control. It should be scrapped. In 2015-16, the $10 billion job agency system imposed more than 2 million penalties on unemployed workers for not meeting requirements (up from 200,000 in 2011).DHS data reveals that each year roughly 35-40% of reviewed penalties are overturned because there was not sufficient evidence or the unemployed worker had a reasonable excuse. This means that 4 out of 10 penalties imposed on unemployed workers are unfair. It can take months for fined unemployed workers to go through Centrelink's lengthy appeals process and retrieve money incorrectly deducted from their entitlement - an entitlement that is already just under $400 per fortnight below the poverty line.The AUWU has received countless cases of unemployed workers being penalised unfairly, most commonly for not attending appointments that they were not even informed of. Despite this broken compliance system, the Turnbull government wants to give money-hungry privately owned job agencies more power to punish unemployed workers. The Coalition has justified these increase penalties by arguing that there are too many unemployed workers refusing to accept jobs. This is a lie. In 2015-16, job agencies imposed 12,000 penalties to unemployed workers for refusing to accept 'suitable work'. This represents less than 1% of the total amount of penalties imposed that year. Of these cases, only 1,047 unemployed workers face a penalty as the majority were deemed to have 'reasonable excuses'. Other unemployed workers had their penalty 'waived' by Centrelink as it was deemed to harsh to cut them off Newstart for more than 2 months (this is the alleged 'loop-whole' the government are trying to "slam shut").There is not a problem of unemployed workers not accepting jobs. The problems is that this government is not creating any. Currently, there are 17 job seekers competing for each job vacancy according to government statistics. The compliance system is broken. It needs to be scrapped, not strengthened.

Australian Unemployed Workers' Union
241 supporters
Petitioning Bill Shorten

Vote Down the Cashless Welfare Card

 Dear Mr Shorten,I write to you in regard to the cashless welfare card. I wish to raise my concerns to the continuation of the card based on a report that has apparently grossly manipulated many facts to suit a political agenda. To highlight the point approximately 50% of trial participants said it made their life worse off, compared to 22% who said it had improved things. Judging by the ministers recent statements and actions it seems that the anecdotal evidence of vested interests who instigated the trial in the Ceduna region are of greater weight and value than the lived experience of trial participants. There are a number of other concerns regarding the trial. Apart from the stigma, discrimination and shame imposed on those who are forced to use the card, there is also social exclusion and the prevention of community participation in sporting and cultural events as the small amounts of cash are necessary for participating in these events. There are issues with being able to give children an allowance or money for trips away on school camps or other outings and functions. Major issues with reliability of the indue system, the phone app and also power and communications in the trial region are all spoken of on a regular basis by many trial participants. These issues are glossed over and ignored by the department of human services and DSS. The report into the card does not seem to stack up with the statements made by the Ministers in regard to the increase in crime within the region. Indeed, significant increases in many categories have occurred which have been totally over looked and not publicised by the minister. As an example: Serious Assaults not resulting in injury up 4%Common Assault up 3%Aggravated sexual assault up 2%Non Aggravated sexual assault up 71 %Robbery and related offences up 125% Aggravated Robbery up 150%Non aggravated robbery up 400% Serious criminal Trespass up 16%Serious Criminal Tresspass up 31% upReceive or handle proceeds of crime up 30 %Fraud deception & Related offences up 45%Obtain Benefit by Deception up 49%  While revenue from Pokies machines in the area may have declined, there is some concern regarding the claims that it’s as a result of the ration card. Upon examination of statistics available from the state government, the gambling data in Ceduna seems to be in line with state-wide reductions in gambling. Gambling revenue has fallen by 15% in SA over the 12 months to June: It seems to have been falling over the past five years.  In Ceduna, it has been on a downward trend at least since 2011/12. I would also bring to your attention once again the inconsistencies of the trial consultation process which excluded those affected. Available evidence indicates even those consulted were lied and tricked into believing the trial was to be Targeted and Voluntary approach. This can be demonstrated by statements made in the Guardian on Monday 9 January 2017: “Minutes from a meeting of more than 100 people from Ceduna and the surrounding towns taken in November 2015 note that the Yalata elder Mima Smart, a medal of the Order of Australia recipient for her services to the Aboriginal community, supported the card “for some, not for all”. She signed up to the card on behalf of the Yalata community, 200km west of Ceduna on the Great Australian Bight.”  “The chair of the Maralinga Tjarutja Council, Keith Peters, told attendees, including Senator Nick Xenophon and the then assistant minister for social services, Alan Tudge, that he did not support the card. No one at the meeting supported universal application of the card to everyone on welfare in the community, the minutes said” This is once again highlighted in a letter article Tuesday 14 March 2017:    “But a respected elder in the South Australian remote community of Yalata, Mima Smart, who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her work with Aboriginal people in her community, was shocked to learn the trial had been extended. Yalata is included in the Ceduna trial. “This is not good enough,” Smart said. “Cancel it. Think about the people that are suffering and the young people on it, who don’t understand how to fill out the paperwork.” Smart was one of the elders who signed up to the trial on behalf of her community. But she says she was misled about how the trial would work. “I thought when it was first talked about in the past, I thought it was going to be for the main people that hang out in Ceduna drinking and causing trouble, and not the people living in Ceduna who don’t drink and get into trouble. “I didn’t think it would be for the people who do look after their kids. I thought the cashless card would be targeted.” Those statements are also backed up by Maureen and Keith signing documents seeking to dissolve the Memorandum of understanding in early 2016 when it was apparent that the wishes of their communities were being ignored. I am aware that documentation was tabled in parliament to enable the continuance of the trial for a further 6 months and is yet to be reviewed or voted on by either the house or Senate.I have noted that Senator Lambie is seeking to introduce a bill into the Senate calling on the "Government to support the inclusion in the upcoming Budget for a further rollout of the CDC for all persons 17 years of age and under who are on ABSTUDY (Living Allowance), Assistance for Isolated Children, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, Parenting Payment Partnered, Parenting Payment Single, Special Benefit, Youth Allowance (apprentice), Youth Allowance (other), Youth Allowance (student) across Australia on 1 January 2018." I would ask you to give serious consideration to propose to disallow the continuance of the trial or support any motions proposed to disallow it. Yours Faithfully  David Pav Ceduna S.A.  

Australian Unemployed Workers' Union
2,726 supporters
Petitioning Michaelia Cash

Justice For Josh: Release the Report Into Work For The Dole Death

In April last year, 18 year-old Josh Park-Fing tragically died at his Government-approved Work for the Dole site in Toowoomba. Distraught family members and the shocked members of the public demanded answers. Minister of Employment Michaelia Cash indicated that an investigation would be carried out into the tragedy and a report would be released within a month. Eleven months on and the Park-Fing family, Josh's friends, and the general public are still waiting for the report into this tragedy to be released. Furthermore, immediately following the tragedy the Australian Unemployed Workers' Union (AUWU) made an FOI request for the Government's Work for the Dole risk assessment conducted for the Toowoomba site. This request has also been rejected by Minister Cash because it contained information that could "harm" NEATO - Josh Park-Fing's job agency. By withholding this crucial information relating to the Work for the Dole tragedy, the Coalition is shamelessly trying to cover up Josh Park-Fing's death to protect the already damaged reputation of the Work for the Dole program. This is a national disgrace. Work for the Dole is dangerous - last year injuries sustained at Work for the Dole sites increased 5 times. According to a recent government commissioned report by Ernst and Young, 64% of Work For The Dole activities do not meet basic safety standards. The government cannot guarantee the safety of unemployed workers forced to attend Work for the Dole programs. Work for the Dole must be shut down. Please sign this petition to demand the release of the report into Josh Park-Fing's death and the Work for the Dole risk assessment. The Turnbull government must take the necessary steps to investigate this program and ensure the safety of all Work for the Dole participants before another serious injury or death occurs at Work for the Dole. The AUWU has launched a Justice For Josh campaign (#JusticeforJosh) and is calling on Australians to call Minister Cash's office to demand the release of the report and the risk assessment. Please share the facebook event throughout your networks.Minister Cash's contact details are below: Parliamentary office: (02) 6277 7320Electoral Office: (08) 9226 2000Email: senator.cash@aph.gov.au If you are one of the 90,000 Australians currently participating in a Work for the Dole activity, the AUWU encourages you to assert your right to participate in a non-Work for the Dole activity - such as Voluntary Work or approved study - until your safety can be guaranteed. See here for more info or call the AUWU hotline on (03) 8394 5266.Stay tuned for further actions demanding #JusticeforJosh

Australian Unemployed Workers' Union
2,296 supporters
Petitioning Malcolm Turnbull, Michaelia Cash

Shut Down the Dangerous Work for the Dole Program

As reported in the Herald Sun recently, this month Sandor Szolnoki was exposed to asbestos at a government-approved Work for the Dole site in Adelaide. Just one asbestos fibre can cause deadly asbestosis, which is a serious scarring of the lungs. Sandor is only one of many unemployed workers concerned about their safety at Work for the Dole programs across Australia. This year there were 500 Work for the Dole injuries reported - including the tragic death of Josh Park Fing at his Work for the Dole site in Toowoomba - compared to 90 the previous year. According to the Australian Unemployed Workers' Union's 2015-16 National Advocacy Hotline Report, 30% of calls related to Work for the Dole safety issues. It is clear that the Government can no longer guarantee the safety of Work for the Dole participants. The program must be shut down. After signing this petition, please call the Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash on (08) 9226 2000 and ask her office how this could happen and what they are doing about this WFTD crisis.

Australian Unemployed Workers' Union
564 supporters
Petitioning Bill Shorten, Jenny Macklin

Bill Shorten: Commit to Raise Newstart to the Poverty Line

  Unemployed Australians deserve to be able to afford the basics. Today, this is not happening. Australia's unemployment benefit - known as the Newstart Allowance - is $355 per fortnight below the poverty line according to the Melbourne Institute, making Australia's unemployment benefit one of the lowest unemployment benefits in the developed world. For 24 years, politicians on both sides of politics have refused to increase Newstart in real terms. Now we are at crisis point. According to a recent Anglicare study, not one property across Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin or Perth was affordable to someone on Newstart. This is a national disgrace. Where are unemployed Australians meant to live? While the government suggests that this low rate of Newstart is necessary to create incentives for people to work, this is not true. According to both the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Employment, there are currently 2.87 million people competing for only 178,600 job vacancies – resulting in a record high ratio of 16 job seekers per job vacancy. Exactly how are the unemployed meant to find work in this situation? Mr. Shorten, as the leader of the Australian Labor Party, you must take a stand against this injustice. You must fight for the right of unemployed Australians to afford the basics and to live out of extreme poverty. You must commit to raising Newstart to the Henderson Poverty Line.

Australian Unemployed Workers' Union
3,248 supporters