“Rising up, back on the street!” I spring out of bed to Eye of the Tiger (1982), as recommended by my Centrelink “Get Job Ready” counsellor: POSITIVITY! ATTRACT A JOB! I punch the air and do some super-fast running on the spot, à la Maniac from Flashdance (1984). I’M HOT FLASH, NOT HOT FLUSH!
Sofa, so good
Fire up the lappy and click on Seek, which claims to have 30 Content Writer jobs daily, most that have nothing to do with writing: create coupons for Grope-on; Quality Analyst Tester at Lush cosmetics; injury management consultant, payroll tax adviser, personal assistant for a legal firm, HR manager, a web designer who’s bilingual in Japanese and Korean.
Listen and learn
Switch on the soothing tones of RPH, the Radio Reading Network, announcing a Daily Telegraph story about dole bludgers living it up on Bondi Beach. The dole is $260 a week, with $300 in bills, $80 in food and a lot more that never gets paid. Catching a bus out there and back is $4 a day on Opal concession. Can’t afford to go to Bondi, let alone get caught in a rip and rescued by Hugh Jackman.
Walk to the letter box. Arrears notice. My thoughts swirl re: debts: “Stop living in the future – just NOW! One day at a time!I can cope with NOW! I’ve got this!”
My nails look great as, thanks to public dentistry, my teeth don’t meet properly, so no chewing. I’m on their 2-year waiting list. And don’t worry, “we’ll fix everything that needs to be done in one go”. Can’t afford any health insurance.
My single friends think the Dole is a safety net. They ask how much “discretionary” money I have (none) and how much I get when I work two days a week for Work for the Dole scheme (none). They’re having a pot luck and want me to bring a meat dish for four, but I can’t afford meat, I take a salad.
Feel simpatico with Real Housewives, who are unemployed and wracked with uncertainty that their housewifey role will be outsourced to a hot, younger competitor.
Funeral insurance and life insurance ads should be banned, too many!
Visit to JobServices
Catch the 423 bus to the eighth circle of Hell in Marrickville, otherwise known as JobServices, for a weekly compulsory Centrelink-mandated visit. Caseworkers make us feel ashamed and unworthy and ask pointed questions about why we’re so crap, why can’t we find a job and why don’t we have someone to financially support us? Because we’re unloveable, unemployable and a burden to society.
JobServices implement Centrelink rules, which are frequently changed, and we have to comply with the new unknowable, discretionary edicts or else they cut off the dole for 8 weeks. JobServices can discretionarily assist with job hunting costs, if they love you. Just beg and hope they don’t cut you off.
They suggest that since we might never get jobs, we should consider migrating to the country and living more cheaply there. They tell me about a long-term jobseeker who sold her home in Sydney and bought a three-bedroom house in rural Queensland and was able to get $260 in rent: the same as the dole, so she no longer claimed. Can they force me to move to country Queensland? Sounds like they want to put me out to pasture and die. They crunch the figures, taking into account selling off all my assets, which I hadn’t even agreed to, and none of the figures add up in a way to allow me to be off the dole, so they put that idea aside. Phew.
We’re told our life experience counts while being shown how to wipe 15 years off our CVs. Am not sure what’s going to happen when I show up in real life. Filling out the ATO declaration and Working With Children Checks all require handing an exact birthdate to employers. Change my LinkedIn profile pic to a Powerpuff Girls avatar and hope that gets me by.
To improve our employability, we’re offered Work for the Dole jobs, where we work for two days a week for no extra $$$. The skill-enhancing tasks include cleaning train platforms alone overnight, joining an assembly line at a mattress factory or building breeze-block loos. I volunteer to do retail at Vinnies but they say no, that’s for “needier” people.
We’re also warned to keep on top of our paperwork, as Centrelink auditors mostly prosecute those who are vulnerable: those recently diagnosed with a serious illness or have suddenly fallen on hard times. Why? Because the government wants to send a message that nobody “gets away with it”. The overpaid sums are small, $10 a week. The mythical bludgers who are ripping big sums off taxpayers are a minority.
On this cheery note, I head home in time for a …
Since many jobs can be outsourced overseas for $5 an hour, the local ads feature sky-high expectations: “Must be able to work with 100 per cent accuracy”, “We want someone talented beyond our imaginations”, “We only want a ‘Best-in-the-World’ employee”.
All pre-job interviews are done by phone and the HR person gets confused about my CV as, since I’ve knocked 15 years off, it bizarrely begins with senior positions. When they guess I’m older, they change their questions to: “Do you know what social media is? Name some sites. Are you capable of learning new things?”
End bit of the day
Kicking back to watch Vanderpump Rules, I feel my day can be summed up by youngster Ariana’s quote: “I’m smarter than you, I’m cooler than you, I’m prettier than you, get the f*ck over it and move on with your life.”
Not sure where to move, maybe rural Queensland?
(NB: this is a comedy article. Please inquire re: my current employment/availability.)