The sick and twisted thing about right wing politics is that tories like a certain level of unemployment because competition for jobs is essential for keeping wages low. Then they treat the inevitable victims of this like it’s all people’s own fault.
This is the single biggest reason why I don’t buy into the narrative that politics is a fun game and the other side are good people who want the world to be better like we do, they just want to go about it differently.
I’m sure that the exceptionally good ‘we are beneficiaries’ campaign has probably been covered on The Standard in some depth before. So forgive me if I am going over old ground, but I think this is an issue we simply cannot let swirl around in a sea of competing priorities. We must return to it regularly to make sure it remains top of mind.
It has got to be a serious priority of the new government to change the culture of Work and Income.
Here are a few of the more recent stories as told by we are beneficiaries…
— WeAreBeneficiaries (@WeBeneficiaries) February 7, 2018
— WeAreBeneficiaries (@WeBeneficiaries) January 31, 2018
— WeAreBeneficiaries (@WeBeneficiaries) January 24, 2018
— WeAreBeneficiaries (@WeBeneficiaries) January 22, 2018
— WeAreBeneficiaries (@WeBeneficiaries) December 20, 2017
— WeAreBeneficiaries (@WeBeneficiaries) December 18, 2017
I do feel for WINZ staff, as some of this stuff is put together in such a way that might suggest to some that they are all inhuman monsters who go out of their way to starve people. In reality, they are mostly poorly paid, poorly resourced workers who are only doing what they are told.
The problem is the design of the system and the tory culture of ‘everyone who seeks a benefit is a bludger’ and you must do everything you can to get people off welfare regardless of whether it’s for the good of the person whose life it is or the good of society.
Everything I’ve read about the WINZ experience (thank God I’ve never had to live through it myself) suggests that it’s set up to feel like a punishment and to be as off putting as possible in the hope that you will give up and magic away your financial problems somewhere else so as not to mess up their stats.
If you are lucky enough to even get an appointment, you are seen as a threat to security until proven otherwise and treated with hostility. They make you sit in an open plan space and discuss private aspects of your life where other staff and ‘clients’ can hear. They make you jump through bureaucratic hoops, and the tiniest mistake made by either you or them results in sanctions or no support. Any excuse to not help is seized upon.
We need WINZ to go back to a starting point of “how can we help” rather than “how can we get out of helping.”
I’m sure the new government will be working on this, and I know it won’t happen overnight, but unfortunately it needed to happen yesterday.
So we have to keep pushing.