My first dealing with welfare in Australia was in 1996, when I ceased being a uni student, and became unemployed. At that point in time, Centrelink did not exist, though doubtless was being constructed, given that it took over welfare management in Australia in 1997 (so says Wiki).
My dealings with the CES were limited, but all in all, I have good memory associations. I know I received some kind of payment, and that they sought to help me find work, and even accommodated my request to see someone to offer some career guidance.
Then however, came Centrelink.
I have dealt with Centrelink as a student, as the unemployed, as someone with chronic health issues, as a parent. The only “good” associations I have with Centrelink come down to 1 or 2 individuals that I dealt with, and did my best to continue to deal with, but always first after having faced intense, pointless frustration.
So, I just wanted to ask the question - was the system actually better before Centrelink? Was it frustrating dealing with, I assume, multiple government departments, rather than the centralised entity that took over? Did you feel less like a number, and more like a person? Did things run smoothly, without stupid red tape? And most importantly - did it feel like it does now - that every encounter you have feels like the government is taking every possible step to stop you pursuing any kind of welfare assistance?
(Everything from the 60 minutes you know you will be waiting on hold until you get to talk to a person, and the hold music itself that’s been the same since 1997, the websites that go round in circles, the application criteria that just don’t make sense, the paperwork they want you to provide that they will lose, their apps that seem to offer simplicity yet don’t actually work, their letters that tell you nothing and leave you having to call them…)