I’m so tired. I’m so tired of chasing them around. Even with a job and not having to sign on once a fortnight, every tiny little thing seems to take weeks and countless people before anything is sorted out.
They change reasons and answers at random, every time you ring up its a total circus. And I almost feel sorry for the person on the phone because a couple of times I’ve been met with nothing but stuttering on the phone – because they know what they are telling me is utterly absurd. With new measures and procedures and targets all the time, they don’t seem to know what’s going on anymore than I do.
I think a huge part of this experience is degrading and demoralising and I don’t think it’s accidental. People are much easier to abuse when they are already beaten down. It just gets heavier and heavier every day, the pressure and the loops, that sometimes you would do anything to change your situation. Even going for workfare sometimes seems easier – do a job voluntarily that the next fella in line got sacked from three weeks ago.
I think it’s designed to confuse and frustrate, because the amount of stress produced by fighting for fair treatment would cripple you, and they know you will give up eventually. They bank on it, they seem to take great pleasure in people’s misery. I think, especially since the cuts, you need a very unique outlook on life to not lose your mind working there. The outlook is this: Fuck Everyone.
They don’t even have phones anymore, so it’s impossible to contact the only people who can help – it’s almost as if they are intentionally making it impossible for you to survive. In fact that’s pretty much exactly what it is, but the phones are not what annoy me most.
What gets me is the total lack of appreciation that the people they are dealing with are real. People with kids, people with houses and bills and jobs. They’re treated with constant suspicion and humiliated. They’re a number and excuse, they look right through them.
Some guy said to me a couple of weeks ago, with a screaming, tantruming toddler on my knee, that he needed to know why I wasn’t claiming for my son. “His dad does, that’s why” I said.
“Why doesn’t your son live with you, why aren’t you the main carer?” he said. I just cried. With shame and embarrassment because I’m so sick of answering that question. What the fuck does that even have to do with anything? Why is that anybody’s business?
But that’s the thing now. There’s a different feel to the place, like walking a tightrope, the slightest slip might send you spiralling to the ground, no safety net. So they push you, and you wobble, and they wait for the inevitable reward that comes with shouldering someone else into poverty, regardless of reason or logic or circumstance. It doesn’t matter any more. It’s just targets, they’re just following orders.