Centrelink has changed the way welfare recipients fill out tasks to receive their payments to a points-based system and while it’s definitely more convenient, it also screams “late-stage capitalism”.
From July 1, the list of job interviews, searches, income reporting and other tasks a person has to complete to get their JobSeeker payment is being scrapped and replaced with a points-based activation system (PBAS). From July 4, Jobactive will also be replaced, by a new service called Workforce Australia Employment Services Provider.
Under the new system those on Centrelink will have to earn “100 points” and do at least five job searches to keep getting payments, instead of having to submit 20 job applications a month.
To get points, you choose from a list of 30 activities that all have their own points value (ranging from 5 to 100), until you’ve made up the amount you need. These tasks include online learning modules, attending job interviews or filling out applications.
While PBAS is actually a pretty convenient change and allows more flexibility than the previous, more tedious methods required of you to prove you deserve basic money to live, it also brings its own problems.
For starters, certain programs are worth more than others which gives off some pretty weird implications.
Programs like PaTH Internship, the National Work Experience Program and Launch into Work are worth 25 points per week — if you do one a week, you’ll reach your 100 point target every month.
However, other activities like Work for the Dole, the Adult Migrant English Program and Skills for Education and Employment are only worth 20 points a week. Which not only implies they are lesser tasks, it also means those who fill them out have to do more tasks to reach their 100 point quota.
Other tasks recipients can pick up include five points for every five hours of paid work, 20 points for attending a job interview or 10 points for being a part of the Defence Force Reserves. Ah, pushing poor people into selling their bodies to the army. Not at all a symptom of a truly broken society, amiright?
Plus, why TF are non-english speaking people’s programs worth less? How do you even quantify this?
Again, these changes will be an improvement for some. But we should definitely be a little critical re: the concept of measuring the numerical worth of tasks people are forced to fill out just to be given welfare payments that are below the poverty line.
And then there’s the issue of how this will affect the already skewed perceptions of those on the dole — we really don’t need more ways to turn them into just another number rather than actual human beings.
Along with this change, let’s increase the amount people on Centrelink receive so it’s actually liveable, yeah? Then I’ll believe these systems are actually designed to help people out of poverty, not keep them in it.