The Civil Service Makes You Uncivil And Is Not A Service

, , , , , | Working | August 1, 2019

(I’ve recently finished university and am looking for full-time employment in the field I have studied. In the meantime, I am eligible for payments from the government. To get my payments, I have to report my income from my part-time retail job. I was previously on a similar payment scheme while at university, so I’m very familiar with the online reporting process. However, when I go to report my income, I find that the website throws up an error message, so I go down to the organisation’s nearest office to get help. After a LONG wait, I’m finally called over to talk to someone.)

Me: “I’ve recently switched from student allowance to Newstart allowance, but for some reason, when I try to report my income online, I receive an error message.”

Employee #1: “No worries. I’ll look into that for you and let you know when it’s fixed. I’ll call you by the end of the week.”

(And with that, I’m sent home. I spend the week waiting for a call and never get one. I wait another week just to be sure. There’s still nothing, and all this time I still can’t report my income, so I’ve not been getting payments and have been living only off my fairly small income from my retail job. Finally, I go back in. After another long wait, I see a different employee.)

Me: “I was in here the other week. I’ve recently started on Newstart allowance, but the website won’t let me report my income. Last time I was in, they told me they’d fix it and give me a call by the end of the week. That was two weeks ago and I’ve heard nothing.”

Employee #2: “That’s strange. Let me look into that for you and I’ll give you a call when it’s fixed.”

Me: “Okay, but that’s literally what I was told last time and nothing happened.”

Employee #2: “I know, but there’s not much else we can do. Sorry. Tell you what, though; I’ll pass this on to my supervisor and she’ll make it a priority. You should hear back within the next day or two.”

(A week later, nothing. Even worse, I receive an email telling me that because I’ve failed to report my income in so long, my Newstart allowance has been cancelled and I will have to reapply to see if I am eligible to receive it again. Now at the end of my tether, I go in again. After the longest wait yet…)

Me: “I’ve recently started on Newstart allowance, but whenever I try and report my income, I get an error message. I’ve been in twice to try and resolve it and both times I was told they’d look into it and give me a call in the next few days. That never happened. Then, this morning, I got an email saying that my payments had been cancelled because I hadn’t reported my income in so long.”

Employee #3: “They said they’d look into it and give you a call? That’s strange. Hang on; give me a second.”

(She gets up and goes to talk with another employee. I can’t hear what they’re saying, but I see them looking at something on a computer together. Five minutes later, she comes back.)

Employee #3: “Okay, it should be fixed now. I’ve also put you back onto Newstart so you don’t have to reapply. And while you’re here, you may as well report your income to me in person. Is there a reason you didn’t report it in person the last two times you were in?”

Me: “I wasn’t given the option.”

Employee #3: “You should have been. You would have kept getting payments.”

(I report my income to her and she enters it into the system.)

Employee #3: “Okay, you should receive all of your back-payments tomorrow morning. Before you go, just try accessing your account on one of our computers to double-check that the issue is resolved.”

(I did and it worked. The following morning, I got my back-payments and since then I’ve had no issues reporting my income. Thanks, [Employee #3]! I’m happy to know that there’s at least one government employee who knows what she’s doing.)

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