When an employer reported David Evers to Centrelink, saying he had failed to show up for work, his welfare payments were swiftly cut, the Canberra Times reports.
Mr Evers, 33, of Melton in Victoria, complained there had been a misunderstanding, but Centrelink suspended his payments for eight weeks on the advice of the employer.
“I didn’t abandon my post of full employment. I was given the wrong time to start and the location was changed at the last minute,” Mr Evers said.
“I got an instant letter saying my payments had been suspended for eight weeks and I had to sort that out myself.
“I didn’t have a leg to stand on.”
Federal Labor spokesperson for employment services and workforce participation Ed Husic said the federal government’s proposal to give private job service providers the power to cut welfare payments was open to abuse and insufficient oversight.
“It takes an individual whose payments have been cut to ring the alarm on the mistake and that mistake takes time to correct, putting pressure on people who are already financially under the pump.
David Thompson, chief executive officer of Jobs Australia Limited, the national peak organisation for non-profit employment service providers said they would not welcome extra power to revoke welfare payments because of the associated costs and complex administration.
Cassandra Goldie, chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Service, said the removal of income support could quickly lead to homelessness or to people going hungry.
The Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, said the welfare system is based on three components: “Creating opportunities, supporting people to take them and a bit of compliance for those who won’t step up to the plate.”
“If good organisations have suggestions on how to get more young people back into employment then we are all ears.”
Large image: Centrelink logo
Small image: David Evers/Pat Scala/Canberra Times