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Centrelink memo reveals hidden agenda.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/1130 THURSDAY 9 DECEMBER 2004 SENATOR BRIAN GREIG AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS DISABILITY SPOKESPERSON CENTRELINK MEMO REVEALS HIDDEN AGENDA The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, has confirmed that Centrelink staff have been instructed to increase referrals of disability pensioners to the Job Network. This coincides with the discovery of a memo purported to have been distributed to Centrelink staff which instructs them to "strongly encourage" clients to accept referrals to the Job Network without telling them the referral is voluntary, unless they specifically ask. Democrats spokesperson for Family and Community Service, Senator Brian Greig, says the memo further instructs staff not to assess whether someone is a suitable candidate, but rather leave that decision to the Job Network provider. "If the memo is genuine, it appears the Government is intent on pushing disability pensioners into the poorly performing Job Network and hence closer to mutual obligation requirements," Senator Greig said. Senator Greig says the Government's use of research into the effectiveness of this process is also misleading. A fortnight ago, results were released from a pilot program aimed at assisting disabled job seekers into paid employment. "Despite participation in the pilot program being voluntary and the results showing only limited success, the Government insists the project proves that a combination of support and coercion results in success," Senator Greig said. "It appears Centrelink may be expanding its coercive tactics even further by using the mediocre results of a limited pilot program to drive people with disabilities away from specialised services to mainstream providers." Senator Greig says the Minister must now explain whether Centrelink staff are required to assess disability pensioners' suitability for work and disclose all options available to them. Media Contact - Di Graham - 02) 6277 3338 or 0417 177 523