Single mothers placed on a compulsory welfare program for disadvantaged parents allege they were pressured into allowing private job service providers to collect their “sensitive information,” The Guardian reports.
ParentsNext participants are asked to sign a privacy notification and consent form, which is similar to documentation provided to those on other welfare programs such as the employment scheme Jobactive.
The program is compulsory for those who want to receive parenting payments and are considered “disadvantaged”, but departmental guidelines state that participants may decline to sign the form and still take part.
Instead, some case workers have told participants that they would have their payments cut if they refused to sign the form.
The situation has meant women who did not want to give their consent have done so anyway. One of the five participants who spoke to Guardian Australia about their experience said they felt the situation represented “coercion”.
“She [my case worker] just said, flat out, ‘If you don’t sign it, you won’t get your parenting payment’,” one mother, who did not want to be named, told Guardian Australia. “It was simple as that.”
The women were concerned by the fact the privacy form states that providers “may collect sensitive information … [which] may include … medical information”. It is understood the form would allow providers to handle participants’ mental health information.
While is standard practice for welfare recipients to be asked to sign privacy consent and notification forms, the chairman of the Australian Privacy Foundation, David Vaile, noted that, in this case, the women felt they needed to sign the form in order to keep receiving their payments.
“It has all the characteristics of bad consent,” Vaile said.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) / Wikipedia / PD