Centrelink

CENTRELINK VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

So I was at Centrelink the other day and when I told the assessor that I was claiming a benefit because my Bipolar Disorder interfered with my ability to do anything full time, she looked at my sympathetically and said,

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‘It’s just a way of dealing with the world. Cause the world is mad’

*WTF Face

What the-

END

You may or may not have heard of Centrelink, dependent on where you’re from. For those of you blissfully ignorant, it’s the government welfare service in Australia. The wall at my local towns Centrelink says ‘Welfare for All Australians’

Now, I know sometimes human people have difficulties with empathy, particularly when relating to experiences they know nothing about. So let me describe my experience of attempting to access a benefit;

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See this cheese grator? I am going to rake this against your face, and then give you paper cuts while I squeeze lemon juice into them.

Is this uncomfortable?

Wait wait, nah nah, you don’t get the feeling of being chronically ill with that. Let’s help you out; [complements of www.shinesandspoons.com]

  1. Fast for 24 hours
  2. Stay awake for 24 hours
  3. Everytime you stand up, spin around 5 times
  4. Throw yourself down the stairs 5 times in a row
  5. Run 10 miles
  6. Continue to try to live your life normally

END

So, some of you may know this, I recently moved to a regional area and my previous practitioner had to suddenly retire so I’ve been on 6-8 month waiting lists to see new Psychiatrists and Clinical Psychologists.

I met with a Psychiatrist who shall not be named. When telling her that I was in processing with Centrelink she said to me,

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“Well, you can’t just not work your entire life.”

“You’re young and articulate, surely there’s something you can do?”

ahem I think you’ll find my disability is INVISIBLE to you not IMAGINARY miss. Thank you for nothing.

Let’s just make an aside to assess these statements.

SPLIT SCREEN

“Well, you can’t just not work your entire life.”

Makes the assumption that being on DSP equals an unwillingness to work your entire life. Prejudiced and reflective of a larger community bias regarding disability and people who receive welfare payments.

Many people with disability want to work if they can and gain the significant benefits that come with working, such as stronger skills, improved health and wellbeing, social connectedness, better incomes and higher living standards.

People receiving Disability Support Pension (DSP) may not know that they can start working or work more hours without losing their payment.

https://www.dss.gov.au/disability-and-carers/benefits-payments/working-and-receiving-disability-support-pension

“You’re young and articulate, surely there’s something you can do?”

People who young and articulate do not have disability. People with disability are not young and articulate

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When I told her you can work part time DSP once you’re up to it, and I was thinking of working at a fast food joint.

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She said ‘No. You will find it too stressful. Try stacking shelves at a grocery store at night instead’

SCRATCHING DISK SOUND AND VOICEOVER

Curious how she couldn’t help me with my benefit claim in our first meeting, but could tell me what to do with my life. Very curious.

ILLUSTRATIONS CUTAWAY 6

Disability Support Pension

A way for people to rob money from hard working tax payers through faking problems.

What it actually is

Disability Support Pension (DSP) is a payment for people who:

  • have a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment of 20 points or more under the Impairment Tables; and
  • because of that impairment, are unable to work for at least 15 hours a week at or above the minimum wage, without support.

https://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/benefits-payments/disability-support-pension-dsp-better-and-fairer-assessments/disability-support-pension-dsp-fact-sheets/disability-support-pension-helping-people-to-work

The criteria (pulled from the Department of Human Services website)

You may get Disability Support Pension if you:

  • are between 16 years and age pension age
  • meet residency requirements
  • meet income and assets tests
  • have a permanent and diagnosed disability or medical condition

I breezed through the income and assets test.

Then came the assessment of your disability or condition. In which you have to be, “fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised.”

Evidenced through

  • medical history records or reports
  • specialist medical reports
  • psychologist reports including IQ testing
  • hospital or outpatient

that shows:

  • your diagnosed disability or medical condition
  • how your disability or medical condition currently affects you
  • the name and contact details of your doctors and specialists
  • (Mental Health Conditions) evidence that a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist supports the diagnosis.
  • your symptoms and Prognosis

https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/disability-support-pension

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This is the stage I have been rejected at, after submitting every medical document to my name (approx. 30+ official medical documents, from multiple Psychiatrists, hospital and GPs. All this in spite of the challenge of having no care team to help me access these files when I needed them), spanning over two years of being treated for my illness and unable to do anything full time. In fact, in the last two years, this meme- was my life.

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Apparently, because my GP provided a mental health plan, with future treatment outlined, this was seen as an indication I was not stable.

This doesn’t take into account the fact my condition is Chronic and Episodic.

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Chronic – permanent. I have it for life and have to adjust to the treatments necessary to keep me alive.

Episodic- means I have episodes, and my severity fluctuates, but my condition is permanent. It never goes away.

The treatments on my GP Mental Health Plan exist to maintain my current level of ability. In other words, it stabilises my condition. It doesn’t enable me to have a greater work capacity.

When researching this I found these articles, which served to infuriate me further;

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http://www.daru.org.au/resource/disability-support-pension-changes-and-the-appeals-process

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/why-was-carmel-rejected-by-centrelink/news-story/8f85f548af864aea0c03d37abc97effb

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/most-disability-support-pension-appeals-rejected-in-line-with-centrelinks-tough-approach/news-story/f9a0f96495b4c904e0e1750860296cec?nk=acd470f5a1fdd370baf76deeb93b7109-1518591567

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-24/rule-change-leads-to-plunge-in-disability-pension-claims/7538070

https://au.news.yahoo.com/sa/a/36672253/wheelchair-bound-student-denied-centrelink-not-disabled-enough/

CUTAWAY 10 PICTURE IN PICTURE CARMEL

This is Carmel, who wasn’t afforded the disability support pension. She’s pretty cool and you should definitely go check out her gofundme. https://www.gofundme.com/carmels-wishing-well Reading the article on her helped me feel less alone- another young Australian struggling to access the social security.

AFTERNOTE- the Cost of Disability

So, its been about two months since this was written, and I have some things to update you on.

I’m now on the disability rate for Youth Allowance, and working in a casual positiont a fast food joint.  And this is what my care team looks like

[drawing here]

I have had one meeting with a Psychiatrist, have a new GP and a Clinical Psychologist along with a Nutrient Doctor. I also see a wonderful Disability Employment Service Provider once a fortnight, who helped me get shoes for work and driving lessons in a manual car, as well as listening to my concerns with empathy.

I have two applications for disability support pension in processing, and haven’t heard any further news on either application since the interactions I mentioned.

In the time since I wrote this video, I have come into contact with even more empathy gaps to do with perceptions of dole bludgers.

I’ll leave you with some of my favourite Memes related to this altruistic service, overlain with the notorious Centrelink hold music – Mozart / Divertimento in F major, K. 138 and Johann Kuhlau – Sonatina Opus 20 no 1 (Allegro)

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