This was the warning by Centrelink in inner Sydney to an older mature age male, who was struggling to finish a TAFE Diploma in Community Services (case management) in 2010, after St George College had failed to get him a work placement for the 2009 one year course. The Course was due to finish then - but the workplace learning teacher told him she couldn't find an organisation to take him for the 240 hours placement required, because they were saying - "we usually get a female".
They only offered him an unsuitable placement at the end of 2009 - which they didn't bother to re enroll him for for the next semester, starting in 2010 (which it would run into).
His Austudy payments ran out after Xmas 2010, while he was still at the placement - so on Centrelink (Student Team) advice, he enrolled in a Youth Work course at another TAFE nearer his home (given that repairs on his car was making it unaffordable). The St George placement teacher wasn't responding to his emailed pleas to be exited from the Xmas placement - where he was complaining by email, to the usually absent workplace "supervisor" of students there - about the fact that their promise to let him work with the senior case worker, was not being honoured. (He has emails, given to him by TAFE, showing that his observation of case management sessions with clients at the placement - would be part of the student placement experience).
Instead he ended up just doing the filing work for all the case workers - and not being allowed to sit in on any sessions (except with a junior case worker in the last few days before they kicked him out - with a false claim that he'd refused to do some filing). The real reason was that he had to give them a Dr letter saying he had a lower back issue - after they were trying to get him to work in their Clinic lifting clients. The "supervisor" claimed his objection amounted to a "refusal to work" and unfairly dismissed him soon after - while cruelly and repeatedly claiming he was "unemployable"- (though there had been no complaints about his work during the months he was there three days a week). Another female manager, in a different part of the organisation, was abusing him - apparently because he is an older male (an example of which we have direct evidence of).
This was after falsely promising to let him use his multi media qualifications and demonstrated skills in group work with their mostly disadvantaged male clients. He left that placement after 166 hours there (that he has signed documentation of) and St George finally let him withdraw from the subject with no penalty (since that placement was failing to let him negotiate a Learning Contract or Work Plan with them so hecould develop a Portfolio for marking at TAFE). In early 2010 he withdrew from the Youth Work course (Centrelink had suggested he enrol in) that had secured him continuation of Austudy to continue the first placement. Then St George asked him to re enroll to do another work placement in the new semester. The head teacher has since stated in a letter that the first placement should still be counted as study load hours.
This second placement in the far off western suburbs, he was able to complete as the supervisor was more co-operative - with his Portfolio on it and other paperwork signed off by a new placement teacher and the Head Teacher by the end on semester 2 in 2010. He was awarded the Diploma document at a mid 2011 graduation, after which he made a written complaint to St George about its sex discrimination - in not standing up to the female preferences of its placement organisations in 2009, during that supposedly one year Diploma course. He was just finishing the Youth Work course in 2011, when Centrelink falsely billed him for a $18,000 debt for Austudy he received in 2010 and 2011.
He is now trying to prepare to fight this outrageous decision in the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, after Centrelink's Authorised Review Officer in Brisbane told him, on the phone, that "placement hours" are not counted towards the 20 hours per week required for a student to considered full time enrolled in NSW TAFE. Full time TAFE courses rarely involve as much as 20 hours of classroom teaching per week as placements have become common practice. In 2010 he had done two 240 hour placements - when counting the off-workplace preparations he did for draft Work Plans etc (and for presentations to clients in the second one). Head Teachers from St George and Ultimo TAFE colleges have produced letters saying he was studying fulltime and that the placements he did with the courses were an essental requirement - ie hours doing them counted as "study load".
The Sydney Morning Herald has failed to respond to his outline of this Federal Govt injustice, to their "investigation" of Centrelink linked corruption (ie Job Services Australia rorts - where he has also had experiences - see www.oocities.com/unemployedembassy). His letters to federal local MP Tanya Plibersek, then apparently Minister for Centrelink (Human Services), have been unanswered. He has been writing her office for years about his mature age education problems. Unfortunately for Centrelink though - he is still so in debt from credit cards on expensive multiple repairs to his ex car (thanks to Kmart Auto) that they were unable to collect any of the $73 a fortnight they tried to take from the dole he is now on (after he phoned their debt collection department). He now only has about $100 left a month, from the fortnightly payments, to pay for food AND electricity (let alone anything else like transport) - after minimum payments for several credit cards is taken out.
A "hardship" arrangement with a credit card bank expired in Jan 2012 - where for about 6 months previously they were letting him just pay part of the (full interest rate) interest due on the accounts. They will not give him a lower interest loan unless he can get a job. He is now about 60 year old - but he thought doing some practical vocational courses could get him work and out of his car repair debts. He spent all of the 2010 Xmas holidays applying for jobs in his field of study - with only two interviews resulting. The interviews however made it clear that his lack of recent sustained paid full time employment and his age were barriers to employment - even in the "community" sector. Also most community sector employers prefer to employ females. He was still being paid Austudy during those holidays - as he had re enrolled in the Youth Work course for 2011 (delayed a year by St George TAFE's anti male sex discrimination in 2009, forcing him later to do unsuitable placements to try and finish the Diploma course).
After the shock of the 2 year Centrelink Austudy debt - he became sick with severe flu-like symptoms, which his Dr says are probably stress related. It could be related to the heightened hyertension he has been on higher medication for since early 2012. This has impeded his job search efforts. He then enrolled in the Youth Work diploma - but cannot afford to do it it on Austudy (which he's reapplied for). He cae up against agesist anti male prejudice in that course dominated by young females. He has again complained formally to TAFE about it. On Austudy previously he was not able to afford to keep up the monthly minimum balances on credit cards - as it was then almost $200 a month less than the dole per month. He is seeking more legal advice on how to try and deal with his greedy creditors - which charity "financial counsellors" seem so tardy in providing legal advice about to desperate job seekers who approach them. He has a manageable physical disability, which TAFE to its credit, has provided simple means to counter. Employers however, have been found to be highly reluctant to provide similar support.
He had to complain by email to the Xmas 2010 placement "supervisor", when they suddenly decided to require him to do client lifting tasks that his disability couldn't handle. Soon after they decided to terminate the placement (that he's been pleading with TAFE to have him exited from) on the fabricated claim that he hadn't done some filing. His very complaint to them and TAFE was that filing and other routine tasks, were all he was being allowed to do. He couldn't see how he could pass the subject - that required him to negotiate a Work Plan with the workplace - related to tasks that demonstrated his classroom learning. His written complaint to St George TAFE raised this issue - but they ignored it in their reply. He now plans to complain about discrimination by the two TAFE colleges. They have said that they would review allowing holiday placements and the Work Plan "competencies" approach has now been changed - thanks no doubt to what he went through (and is now unfairly stuck with a $18000 debt he is trying to appeal against).
Perhaps the Aged Pension should just be restored to 60 - since employers are so disinterested in using the talents and experience of older mature age people. WELCOME TO THE LUCKY COUNTRY.
Check out our other blogspot at http://unemployedpeoplesembassy-tube.blogspot.com where new discrimination by TAFENSW, including Ultimo TAFE threatening violence against a middle aged male with a physical disability - is being exposed.
WHAT IS THE EMBASSY - AND HOW TO CONTACT AND SUPPORT US
See our contact details in the Sydney White and Yellow pages. Our websites http://www.unemployedembassy.org/ (which has disappeared now due to difficulty of paying for the domain name) and http://www.unemployedembassy.magix.net/ which give background to projects run by our organisation. There was email contact sections on both these sites, but only the latter site one can now be found - though perhaps most easily by clicking on the link here. The former (.org) site is on a "domain" apparently run by an overseas outfit called Magix - who had blocked our website unless we give them a credit card number online.We have emailed them twice, offering to send them a cheque - though we don't know for how much USD is in $A and what the amount is actually for. We rely on people to join our registered non profit organisation and volunteer their time for our campaigns and activities - to give some hope to jobless and disabled people interested in being involved in the community.
We rarely get government grants - and they are usually only a matter of a couple of hundred dollars and only for specific community projects. Private donations are even rarer. For a pluralist society there needs to be more involvement from citizens in the democratic process, that being forced to vote every so often for political parties who don't value the input of their "members" - doesn't really provide. Our organisation has been able to make a difference to public debate - if hardly ever public policy.