Centrelink #JobActive disability contractors breaching #SpringSt #COVID19aus pandemic orders: @jansant reports

Wayne Jansson

Wayne Jansson

Chief reporter & photographer at No Fibs
Wayne Jansson is an Australian citizen journalist and photographer. He covered the seat of Indi during the 2013 federal election which saw Independent Cathy McGowan unseat Liberal Sophie Mirabella. His interests are politics and social justice.
Wayne Jansson
- 4 hours ago
Wayne Jansson

Commonwealth JobActive disability contractors (job providers) are playing dice with the health of unemployed workers most at risk of serious illness from COVID-19 infection, by ignoring Victorian Government health directives to wear masks inside.

JobActive contractors run Centrelink’s “mutual obligation” scheme.

I went to 3 job providers in Benalla and Wangaratta and staff at all locations were breaching government health directives.

People forced to use these services are perhaps the largest cohort outside of aged care at extreme risk from an infection and illness caused by COVID-19, they are much more likely to die.

A decision was made not to name the businesses – the only 3 I went to were in breach of health directives which suggests there is systemic non-compliance.

I didn’t think it was fair to out the companies – a possible backlash against a few businesses and their employees when I believe non-compliance with COVID-19 directives likely widespread – that didn’t sit right with me.

The Commonwealth government is responsible for managing (or mismanaging) their contracts – they deserve the backlash.

The Australian Unemployed Workers Union (@AusUnemployment) said:

  • 250,817 people (18.9%) in the JobActive system are disabled.
  • 296,514 people (21.6%) of people on an unemployment payment are more than 55 years old.
  • 519,765 people are aged 35–54 and that’s 37.9% of people on JobSeeker + Youth Allowance Other.
Current Victorian Government COVID19 mask directive. Source: coronavirus.vic.gov.au

Location one

I know this location well, it’s my disability job provider. I’ve attended this office many times.

However, months ago I was informed there was a ‘review by Centrelink’ and no longer their client. For much of the pandemic I’ve had no JobActive provider, during this time Centrelink did not contact me.

A few weeks ago after being contacted and attending an appointment in person, I discovered at least one company with a JobActive disability contract was breaching pandemic health orders.

This first batch of photos are crops from a video.

JobActive company employee leaves a meeting room unmasked to go print documents,

In this picture a JobActive employee can be seen leaving a tiny meeting room to print documents for the unemployed worker waiting in the room.

How do I know this? I’ve sat at that same desk many times and at the end of each appointment it’s the same conversation:

Me: I don’t need you to print out when my next appointment is, there’s a text message and I can log into the website and look.
JobActive employee: we’re required to.
Me: [leaves scrap paper on desk – exit building]

The office is about my height wide and a Luc Longley height long, it’s tiny with limited air flow.

unemployed worker leaves the JobActive contractors premises.

I blanked out most of the face of the unemployed worker – he could have an exemption – it’s the responsibility of the Morrison Government to ensure locations they force people to attend are “covid safe”.

The next unemployed worker walks in the JobActive contractors office with a mask on a few minutes later.

The job active contractor can be seen coming out of the same meeting room a few minutes later without a mask, to see if the next appointment has arrived – I know this joint.

The legs belong to the next person who’s had a minute or three of drama signing in with the QR Code – overheating stalling old phone?

The requirement to own expensive technology and maintain a data connection when living way below the poverty line with little way out – that’s just mean and nasty and a whole other issue.

No meetings should be taking place in that room without masks while the pandemic continues.

It’s a tiny meeting room with poor air flow – many of the people attending appointments have comorbidities – a high traffic volume confined space.

The meeting room is a devastating super-spreader event waiting to happen.

You’d have to have been hiding under the doona not to realise that – maybe they don’t care?

Location two

A JobActive employee without a mask sits at a desk wearing a telephony headset.

There are exemptions for wearing a mask in some circumstances, I can’t see an exemption that would fit this situation. In any event I have a photo without the headset on standing and leaning across the desk to talk to someone on the other side of the pole.

Curiously, the employee on the other side of the pole had just walked into the office with a mask on and then took it off once inside. In the other photo the second employee is obscured by the pole and the image is soft – I went with the photo above.

JobActive office trophy and hype shelf.

Conversion !!
Conversion !!
Conversion !!
Trophies: “I stopped these” comes to mind.

Location 3

I’ll explain the next photo first. After walking around the front of this JobActive office, although I could see an employee was inside without a mask, I decided I wasn’t going to get a usable photo.

It struck me as odd that an office (supposedly) catering to people with disabilities, would put notices at the bottom of a door using print so tiny people had to crouch down to the ground to read them.

I crouched down and read them – the last two Victorian Government COVID-19 orders.

The oddness caused me to give the photo one last look, I moved to the gutter edge of the footpath and crouched below the window transfer.

Two JobActive employees without masks on came out of their office and aggressively confronted me about taking photos. I informed them I was now taking photos, finished and stood up straight again, they walked back into their office without putting masks on.

You can see the company name in the photo, this photo was meant to be, I hope people reading this direct any anger at the right people – the Morrison Government.

Two JobActive employees confront me about taking photos in a public place.

I sent Centrelink some questions on Twitter.

This response annoyed me for a couple of reason – my questions were not answered – people with all kinds of disabilities are forced into the JobActive scheme, brain injuries, intellectual disabilities and people with mental health problems being some.

The response from Centrelink: people with (quite possibly) severely diminished capacity to advocate for themselves, in a situation of coercive control, told to advocate for themselves on a serious health issue during a pandemic.

This is again cruel and nasty.

I also sent an additional question.

Well slap me over the knee with a soggy platypus, fobbed off to another government department.

I sent Centrelink one last question.

Hi, I have another question then: As the Commonwealth agency referring unemployed workers to JobActive contractors, do you have a duty of care to ensure contractors are providing a “COVID-19 Safe” environment?

@jansant

They have not responded.

There are many unemployed workers with disabilities and serious comorbidities that are terrified of Mutual Obligation.

MUTUAL? Bullshit.

I have an appointment on Thursday and I don’t want to go, the #JobActive system for unemployed workers, especially those with disabilities, is cruel and dangerous.

If you’ve experienced breaches of government COVID-19 orders at your job provider let No Fibs know on Twitter (@jansant) – my DM’s are open.


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