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Issue #1916      May 25, 2020

AUWU – Melbourne Branch Statement

the Closure of the Abbotsford Centrelink Office

On the 20th of May, the Coalition Government quietly announced the closure of the Abbotsford Centrelink office, with less than 24 hours notice. As an organisation dedicated to fighting for the rights of Australian social security recipients, the Melbourne Branch of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) is greatly concerned about what this represents to the people of Abbotsford, one of the largest public housing suburbs in Australia, and its surrounding communities. The Coalition government is refusing to build a social security system that is fully-funded, fully-functioning and works for those who need it the most.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Centrelink was underfunded by the Coalition government and undeniably dysfunctional. Anyone who’s been on social security has been forced to deal with the queue times at Centrelink offices. The inadequate phone and online services that are presented as alternatives are, at best, challenging to navigate, and at worst, lead to dead ends. Social security recipients need the option to visit local Centrelink branches when these alternatives fail them. These branches need to be well-staffed and accessible to everyone regardless of age, disability, and circumstance. Any social security system that does not meet the needs of its people puts the lives and wellbeing of its recipients at risk.

The increased pressure on Australia’s social security systems didn’t create these conditions but it has aggravated them. The Coalition government’s continued cuts to Centrelink and the expansion of privatised alternatives are cruel and unnecessary. The Coalition government prioritises the profits of the private sector before the vital social security systems that maintain the wellbeing of working and impoverished Australians. As Australians are neglected by these social security systems, the AUWU is preparing to expand our advocacy services and to continue the fight against austerity.

Closing the Abbotsford Centrelink branch is just the latest example of the government’s callous attitude towards social security recipients. We’re calling on the federal government and Services Australia to fix the problem they’ve created and ensure that the people of Abbotsford have access to the support they need, by reinstating a Centrelink branch in the Abbotsford area, effective immediately. 1800 289 848 21/05/2020


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