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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Gaming the system - the real rorting of welfare

Gaming the system - the real rorting of welfare

An opinion piece by guest blogger, Willz

Gaming the system is another symptom of the greed of capitalists. It seems to me that every time the government comes up with another scheme to supposedly help people, for whatever the reason or whatever their motives, whether honourable or devious, then the schemers come out of the woodwork and quickly work out how to game the system.

It happened with the demise of the old CES (Commonwealth Employment Service) and the creation of private job agencies. These agencies soon realised the best way to game the system and get the maximum amount of money out of the government was to have as many high-risk unemployed people on their books as possible. It is not in their best interest to find jobs for these people as that would lessen their income. In fact they get more money if these people remain unemployed and pushed into dodgy work for the dole schemes. As a result, unemployment has exploded and work for the dole horror stories are now coming out. A recent expose on ABC’s Four Corners program exposed just how bad and corrupt this system has become(1).

Agencies have been accused of forging signatures(2)

Next we had the brilliant idea of the VET loan scheme. This was a scheme introduced by the federal government to allow anyone to enrol in vocational education courses with fees paid for by way of a loan which would be paid back only when the applicant obtained work in their chosen field. As a result RTOs sprang up everywhere offering dodgy courses at inflated prices, in many cases luring people who had no hope of even completing the course and issuing worthless diplomas and certificates that most graduates will never use or obtain employment from, with little chance of the government ever recouping their loan money. Many of these dodgy RTOs have now closed or been closed down for signing unsuitable people up to overpriced courses(3). The cost of this scheme has now blown out to over 4 billion dollars with little likelihood of the government ever recouping their money.

Now we have the roll-out of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme), which is a worthy scheme, but unfortunately it seems that the schemers are already coming out of the woodwork; lining up at the government treasury with their hands out, looking for new job opportunities. Coincidentally, after being unemployed for some time and obtaining advice from my job provider I enrolled in a Diploma of Community Services course which qualifies one for work in any of the community service industries including mental health, disability, aged care, caring for children etc covered by the NDIS scheme. Having completed the course and subsequently completing a Mental Health First Aid Certificate, I set about putting my new found skills to use.

The first thing that struck me was the sheer number of NDIS based support agencies that had sprung up since the announcement of the NDIS. Most of them in opulent buildings with large numbers of staff servicing a relatively small number of clients, drawing a large amount of money from government grants. One job I was interviewed for serviced eight clients. For this service they rented a huge office with four staff and two houses that housed four clients each with two support workers assigned to each house, plus two casual support workers for vacation and fill in shifts. I don’t know what their budget is, but it would be well over one million dollars per year to help eight kids with mental health problems. This is just one example, but typical of nearly every interview I have been for.

I am yet to obtain work in the sector and have heard many unconfirmed reports of a ‘jobs for the boys culture’ that exists in the industry. By law, these agencies are required to advertise all vacancies to supposedly give everyone a fair go, however there really is no way of compelling them to give the job to the most suitable applicant rather than to a mate or relative.

The failure of all these systems to address the problems they were supposedly designed to fix is nothing more than a symptom of an ever more sickening system of greed and exploitation, also known as capitalism. Private enterprise simply cannot be trusted to do the right thing by their clients. For them it is always about the bottom line and as such any social service run by private enterprise will only help the people running them.


 1. ABC, Four Corners, ‘The Jobs Game’, 23 February 2015, Accessed 11 March 2017.

2., ‘Investigation exposes fraud within taxpayer funded Jobs Services Australia’, 25 February 2015, Accessed 11 March 2017.

3. Sydney Morning Herald, Matthew Knott, ‘Rampant Abuse’: Vocational loan scheme slammed as costs blow out, 16 October 2015, Accessed 11 March 2017.