Thursday, 5 January 2017

Disability advocates join calls to suspend Centrelink auto debt letters

For those of us disabled it's a no brainer that Centrelink's debt extortion racket will have huge mental health consequences for us, but as this gov doesn't get it it has to be spelled out for them. 

Myself, my psychologist the other day said it was quite likely that the prospect of getting some crazy debt notice from Centrelink contributed to the severe panic attack I had on Monday afternoon. FFS I used to earn $55,000 a year and now am bankrupted on disability getting $16,500 a year, which that alone is a mental heal issue. Let alone the prospect of getting some maniac threatening debt letter from a rouge gov computer. Which the gov insists is all just fine and dandy. 

Many of us disabled people suffer from severe depression and thoughts of suicide. I've been getting treated for it since 2009. If this system isn't suspended then how long will it be before one of us does it? There's a very good reason we're on disability you know.

I know this doesn't affect working healthy people, who probably know little about it. But for me it has a huge impact, for mental health reasons alone. As when I was working the fight against Howard's WorkChoices was front and centre on the factory floor, so now is the fight against a bureaucracy gone mad. For me this is every bit an affront to Australians as WorkChoices was. To fairness and decency. To our common sense to care for the less fortunate. To our well-being as a nation. 

This is just not right. Not right that a gov would treat it's citizens so badly and then outsource the problem to Lifeline. Not right that large companies pay no tax and the gov targets the poor, the sick, the old and vulnerable. Not right that after 30 years on the factory floor that I'm now demonised as a welfare reliant person. We're not the enemy, we're just the unfortunate.

And they won't even let us get married......
Co-chief executive officer Matthew Bowden said he feared the system was having a particularly unfair impact on those with a disability. 

“Many people with disability rely on social security payments to make ends meet. For those that work in casual or contract work, this new system appears to be particularly problematic,” Bowden said. 

“The majority of people with disability being reviewed will have been entitled to social security payments and have done nothing wrong. People with [a] disability may need more time and support to understand the information and respond, may need the information in different, accessible formats and should have increased advocacy available to engage with the Centrelink system and manage such a stressful situation.” 

The group called for the government to immediately suspend the system. It adds to a growing number of groups calling for the system’s suspension, including the Australian Council of Social Service, Autism Awareness Australia, the Community and Public Sector Union, Labor, the Greens, independent Andrew Wilkie, and senator Nick Xenophon. 

In a further sign of the system’s impact on individuals, Centrelink is referring some Twitter users to Lifeline. The tweets, clearly made by concerned staff, show the level of damage the system is causing. 

Former Greens leader Christine Milne drew attention to the tweets on Thursday, writing: “What sort of government terrifies its poorest people then tells them to ring Lifeline? Centrelink debacle must stop. PM should intervene now,” she wrote on Twitter. The Guardian  

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