Allan Wright's hands struggle to hold onto objects, he drops things a dozen times a day. He suffers stabbing pain at least every hour and he has emphysema.
And it all stems from the 15 hours per week of volunteer work the 64-year-old from near Huonville was required to do to keep receiving Newstart as part of an over-55s work program.
First, in 2014, while volunteering with an animal rescue farm, his body basically collapsed while lifting a bin of fruit and vegetables. He was diagnosed with sciatica.
After a few weeks off, he went to volunteer at a boat shed. While enjoying the work, over the course of three years his direct exposure to fumes from antifoul boat paint triggered emphysema. He had quit smoking four years earlier, but on this particular day he was gasping for air.
It also resulted in a cervical disc injury in his neck, causing regular acute pain.
Allan lodged various complaints and was ultimately told that the not-for-profit didn't employ or pay anyone, and so didn't have to comply with the Work Health and Safety Act. He'd have to chase the organisation's insurance company for compensation, and instead faced out-of-pocket medical expenses. He eventually got an eight-month exemption from volunteering, but started getting hounded by Centrelink again after four months.
COVID shutdowns saw the end of his volunteer work at a local library, but having been deemed ineligible for the Disability Support Pension, his days of "mutual obligations" - the requirement for job seekers to meet various job application criteria or work tasks - will be returning.
So now, in 2021, with the Centrelink system back to "normal", Allan says he'll have to look for 8-14 hours of work per week with an appointment at a job service provider next week.
After spending most of his working life as a sewer drainer, he says the unemployment system has no consideration for older unemployed people with backgrounds in manual labour. He's now hoping to wait out the last two years until he qualifies for the Age Pension.
"No one will want me. I'm 64-and-a-half and I still get treated like this. The system just doesn't have flexibility for people who work in manual labour jobs and get injured," he said. "They're not actually caring about your age or how infirm you are."
The COVID downturn presented the perfect opportunity for the government to reform Australia's unemployment system, but instead, it's business as usual. People like Allan are again facing a system that sees them as numbers, not humans. Although the rate of JobSeeker is $4-per-day above pre-COVID, the poverty line has increased faster based on a range of indicators.
While the government claims the unemployment rate is falling fast, the number of people claiming payments isn't. This time last year there were 80,000 people on unemployment payments also earning incomes through work. That has increased to 290,000, many who signed up for JobSeeker for the first time 12 months ago when mass job losses occurred.
And when 12 months passes - which for many is right now - they'll move to the Work for the Dole phase. Are there enough organisations signed up to handle such a surge in demand, or will these people be forced to stand around doing pointless tasks with dozens of others?
But the government did bring in at least one new idea: the dob in a jobseeker hotline, where employers can report people who refuse jobs. Penalties already exist for a "work refusal", and from July to December 2019, only 600 of the 700,000 Australians on jobactive were confirmed as failing to accept a job without reason.
The Australian Unemployed Workers Union's Kristin O'Connell claims this is a response to a problem that doesn't exist, and is instead a cynical tactic to ramp up the old "dole bludger" rhetoric.
"It's a PR opportunity to demonise unemployed people and a justification to support this cut to the payment they brought in from April. The government is trying to return to the idea that unemployed people are undeserving," she said. "So why would an employer want an employee who doesn't want to work for them? It's because you get direct government payments for hiring them, wage subsidies up to 100 per cent, the job agency gets an outcome payment."
If many on JobSeeker already have a job, and they need to apply for 20 a month from July, they're going to end up in a bind. What if one of these 20 clashes with their current job, so they refuse? Or Allan, who will also need to start applying for jobs he has no hope of being able to work.
Not everyone in the government likes the idea. Bass Liberal MHR Bridget Archer agrees that it "demonises job seekers". She instead wants widespread reform.
"Mutual obligation should be meaningful and not create additional barriers for people. There are many barriers that impact on people's ability to access or engage with employment," Ms Archer said.
Will the government listen?