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Return of Mutual Obligations payments suspended in less than 30 days  

[by Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie]

Image: supplied

In less than thirty days of mutual obligations being re-instated after they were suspended due to the covid pandemic 74,434 payments have been suspended by Centrelink. 
 
Estimates has revealed that 12,137 First Nations peoples, 6,334 single parents, 13,169 disabled people, 9,100 homeless people and 12,135 culturally and linguistically diverse people are among those that have had a payment suspended within the first month of mutual obligations returning. 
 
"There are very clearly vulnerable people who are disproportionately impacted by the punitive mutual obligations system," Senator Rachel Siewert said. 
 
I’m at a loss to understand how suspending a homeless person’s payment in the midst of a recession will help them find work. 
 
These are cohorts that the Government should be providing additional support for, not punishing them for being on income support.
 
Having a payment suspended is an incredibly stressful thing for someone to go through, particularly if you are living below the poverty line for a long period of time, not to mention in the midst of a pandemic and recession.
 
For those who say it may have only been for a couple of days, they miss the point. It is incredibly stressful to be trying to navigate this system to be dealing with Centrelink and in some cases intimidating Employment Providers. 
 
In the best of times this system causes anxiety and poor mental health and this is only exacerbated in the midst of a recession when so many people are living with such uncertainty in their lives.
 
The Government itself has recognised the problems with the suspension process and in December introducing a 48 hour period to reconnect before suspension occurs, in the meantime all these people have been suspended.

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