Ravenswood fourth in top five Tasmanian suburbs for Centrelink 'non-compliance'

Ravenswood has rated the top Northern Tasmanian suburb for jobseekers who fail to turn up to appointments, according to data released by the federal government.

The government released the top 30 welfare hotspots for what they term “non-compliance” on Wednesday.

It does not rate suburbs per capita and Tasmania did not rate in the top 30 around the country.

However, out of the top five for the state, Ravenswood clocked in at number four, with 75 jobseekers failing to turn up to at least five Centrelink appointments.

Southern suburb Glenorchy was number one on the Tasmanian list, followed by Devonport, with Bridgewater and Claremont rounded out the rest of the top five.

RAVENSWOOD COMMUNITY 

Starting Point Neighbourhood House manager Nettie Burr said she wasn’t surprised to see Ravenswood on the list but said there were lots of factors that could determine why that was so.

“When you are experiencing social issues, such as a drug or alcohol problem, or even if you just suffer from anxiety problems, it’s really hard to turn up to appointments like Centrelink,” she said.

Ms Burr said the centre often had people who experienced those issues come in as clients of the centre and express how difficult they found attending appointments.

“Even when they have literacy and numeracy problems, they don’t have the confidence to seek jobs.”

The centre runs social engagement programs to help people build up their confidence.

Literacy and numeracy programs are run from the house as well as a study buddy program and inclusion programs such as the Mens’ Shed and the Community Garden.

“We had one man, an older gentleman, he’s in our literacy program and he said he felt he had always failed at life, with school, and other things and this program was the first time he felt he had succeeded,” Ms Burr said.

GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS

A document from the Minister for Human Services office read 100,000 people fail to comply and “consistently miss job appointments, job interviews and other required activities without a valid reason.”

The document stated that half of the 100,000 have “issues going on in their lives” which Centrelink is unaware of and contribute to their “continuous failure” to meet appointments.

The document stated that a “waiver” system introduced by the Labor Government meant that a person who faces a penalty for non-compliance can avoid it by committing to re-engage in a training course.

A new welfare compliance system drafted by the government would give a point each time an appointment was missed.

After four points, the person would be called into Centrelink for further investigation at which point a human services officer would deem if they should be put on notice.

A person on notice would lose a weeks payment if they missed another appointment, two weeks if they missed a second and have their payment cancelled if they missed a third.

Minister for Human Services  Alan Tudge said there were “too many who deliberately flout the system, and have been getting away with it.”

“Our new welfare compliance system, announced last month, will ensure that those who need more assistance will get it earlier, but those who are taking the taxpayer for a ride will face consequences, including having their welfare cancelled if they turn down a suitable job,” Mr Tudge said. 

SOCIAL SERVICES RESPONSE

TASCOSS chief executive Kym Goodes slammed the government for releasing the documents, saying it was an unfair attack on welfare recipients.

She said TASCOSS believed it was a further attempt to demonise people who were on welfare.

“Community members are working hard to support all Tasmanians participate in employment, we’ve moved on from this government’s attempt to play a blame game, and call it for what it is – a miserable attempt at dividing communities,” she said.

“The government seems to want to put all its energy into blaming people rather than working with local communities to support people who are looking for work.”

Ms Goodes said the documents were “lazy, politic and divisive headline grabbing” by a government who should “invest the same level of energy into understanding the barriers people face in participating in work and invest in that.”