|Rhys Cauzzo, robodebt victim suicided|
As if it couldn't get any worse, it has.
Recently a young man suicided after being hounded by Centrelink and it's outsourced debt collectors. The story was published in The Saturday Paper.
After that Centrelink sent the private information it had on the man to The Saturday Paper to try to get the paper to change the story it had reported earlier. Thankfully, the Saturday Paper refused to publish any of it, instead letting readers know what Centrelink had done.
It beggars belief that Centrelink could so violate this man and his family. How would his loved ones have felt seeing this happen? How would they have felt had that private information been published in a less conscionable paper? After losing him, it would be devastating. That our gov could show such disrespect for the dead is beyond me.
Unfortunately that appears to be the point we've now reached with robodebt. Are we now to assume that welfare recipients don't have the same privacy rights as the rest of the population? That us on welfare who don't manage to jump through all the Centrelink hoops are then not worthy of our own privacy?
This is a violation of human rights, both to the suicide victim and his loved ones.
Recently, private information about welfare recipients has been leaked to the media in the hope of discrediting critics. After The Saturday Paper published Rhys Cauzzo’s story, the department shared his personal data with our reporter in the hope of changing the piece. This week, Barnaby Joyce said: “If you want to keep your information absolutely private, don’t go and get the dole whilst you’ve also got a job.”
The contempt in which people who receive welfare are held is the contempt of a government out of touch with its responsibilities. It is this contempt that designs a system such as the one that drove Rhys Cauzzo to suicide.
Welfare does not exist to punish people; it exists to help them. In receiving the support of the state, a person does not forfeit their ordinary rights. Nor should they.
But these simple principles seem beyond this government and beyond the department that serves it. In their place is a deadly barbarism, a breakdown of the social compact under which this country once operated. Our system of social security was once the envy of the world. Under this government, it has become a monster. The Saturday Paper