(The postings in this Blog are a memorial to the more than 3 million Aussie Battlers have been Breached. It is especially a memorial to the (estimated) 5,000+ Aussie Battlers who did not survive being breached. Please, help to spread the word about this humanitarian disaster by using the “Share with a friend “link in the right hand column.)
It is true, you can learn from your mistakes. In my last blog, the letter to members of the Federal Parliament, I made a bonza bluey for I was wrong when I wrote that only 2,805 been breached in the 2008-09 financial year. The reality is that the 2,805 only refers to the number of breached welfare recipients who were offered post breaching support when breached for 8 weeks. To quote from Centrelink’s 2008-09 annual report:
“When a job seeker, who is either exceptionally vulnerable or has vulnerable dependants, faces an eight-week non-payment period, Centrelink offered financial case management services to help prevent hardship”.
- The measures that should have been in place to protect welfare recipients when breaching legislation was first introduced are starting to come but they are decades too late.
- For all of those who died when there was no post breaching support, this is most definitely a case of “Too little, too late”! The Centrelink statement supports my claim that breaching has been A Criminal Act of Reckless Endangerment committed against the “exceptionally vulnerable”. As mentioned in my previous blogs, “A reckless indifference to human life that results in a death, is a crime”, i.e. Felony Murder in South Australia and Manslaughter by Criminal Negligence in Victoria and other states.
“Additionally, in 2008–09, the Social Work Service: provided suicide awareness training “
Apart from being another case of Too little, Too late, the above statement raises a number of questions such as the need for such training and the effectiveness of such training:
- The most critical question of all is how many breached welfare recipients committed suicide before this suicide awareness training was implemented?
- Since every breaching triggered death is a homicide, equally critical is the question of why these homicides were never reported in Centrelink’s annual reports?
- Suicide was just one of many “natural causes” that resulted in the deaths of welfare recipients. For people with Hypertension problems, the shock of being breached was sometimes enough to trigger a fatal heart attack or stroke. People forced out on to the street died from exposure or poor hygiene related medical problems. Again, none of these post breaching homicides have ever been reported in Centrelink’s annual reports.
- Transparency is the true key to Accountability and the failure of Centrelink management to include post breaching homicides in their annual reports is a “Compliance Failure” that far exceeds the so called compliance failures of welfare recipients.
- Why the Compliance Failure, i.e. why were these homicides not included in the annual reports?
- The failure to report these deaths to parliament is also a serious legal issue. Crown vs Josiah Finch in the SA Supreme Court in February 2006 saw the accused teenager, Josiah Finch, sentenced to 14 years with an 8 year non-parole period for concealing the details of just one homicide!
- The clear message to Centrelink’s chief administrators is that by not transparently reporting these deaths to Parliament, you may have exposed yourself to the same fate as Josiah Finch!
Page 32 of the 2008-09 annual report provides details of Centrelink’s current efforts to manage internal fraud. Again, these efforts reflect what should have been in place when breaching legislation was set and when Centrelink was launched.
“Centrelink has various confidential methods for the public and employees to report internal fraud. All allegations of inappropriate employee involvement are assessed and suspected fraud or misconduct is investigated. When necessary, cases are referred to the Australian Federal Police and/or the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution for criminal proceedings”.
Once again it is a case of “Too little, too late” and “Shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted”.
1) In the mid 1990s when CES staff used breaching as an administrative convenience or as vocational sport, there was no protection for welfare recipients.
2) Again, in 1998 when some of my peers in the Job Network misused breaching legislation for financial gain, there was no protect for welfare recipients who were being defrauded of legitimate welfare entitlements.
3) When I reported this fraud in writing, no action was taken.
4) Instead of reporting this fraudulent activity to the Federal Police, in 1998, Centrelink management tried “administrative measures” to control the rorting by implementing a secret moratorium on breaching.
5) By keeping the rorting a secret, welfare recipients who had been defrauded of legitimate welfare entitlements received neither restitution nor “Victims of Crime” compensation”.
6) Every homicide resulting from this criminal activity was a serious crime and by failing to report this activity to the police, it is highly probable that the Centrelink decision makers who were allegedly involved in the concealment of this rorting activity are in violation of laws dealing with unlawful deaths.
The role of the Australian Federal Police in dealing with fraud is of grave concern for the AFP has been anything but impartial:.
When necessary, cases are referred to the Australian Federal Police and/or the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution for criminal proceedings”.
1) In June 2004 the Australian Federal Police were asked to investigate whether or not one of John Howard’s “Golden Girls”, Trish Draper had defrauded the Commonwealth by obtaining a benefit by Deception.
2) They were also asked whether or not the deaths arising from the Howard Government’s enforcement of breaching quotas and the fraudulent activity of Job Network agencies mentioned above, constituted either Felony Murder or Manslaughter.
3) The Australian Federal Police refused to investigate citing “gravity/sensitivity”.
4) In November 2005, all documents relating to that decision were secretly classified as confidential by the Senate’s Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee!
5) On 1st March 2010, the Senate’s Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee issued a second suppression order when the “Any other matters” term of reference into the “Roofgate” inquiry opened the door to other deaths that also were the result of mal-administration and corruption having to be considered by the committee.
6) As of the time and date of this blog being posted, the deaths of welfare recipients from breaching activities still remains an official secret and the Federal Police have twice declined to investigate breaching triggered deaths that occurred anywhere in Australia, including the Australian Capital Territory.
7) On April 1st 2010, the Australian Crime Commission was made aware of the secrecy surrounding breaching triggered deaths and the refusal of the Australian Federal Police to investigate these deaths. Continuing pressure will be applied until this commission launches an inquiry into breaching triggered deaths and the AFP refusal to investigate.
The following two comments on Data Mining are from pages 34 – 35 of the annual report.
“Following a two-year pilot project which showed data mining is a cost effective debt prevention and risk identification tool, in 2008–09 Centrelink decided to adopt this new technology to identify more customers at risk of non-compliance”.
“Through analysing compliance reviews to determine their efficiency and effectiveness in achieving savings, data mining also provides evidence on which to base resource allocation for review activities across Centrelink”.
1 Using the “SAS” software referred to above, it is possible to extract information buried deep in Centrelink’s database in just seconds.
2 This means that Centrelink staff have the capability, but apparently not the willingness, to identify every breaching triggered death right back to the very first post breaching outcome.
3 Despite almost 7 years of trying to obtain this information, including waiting the last 5 months for the Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O’Connor, to make it available, I am still waiting to receive these statistics.
4 Given that each of these deaths is a breaching homicide that remains unreported to parliament, and that many are reckless endangerment, manslaughter or Felony Murder deaths, I guess the reluctance to hand over this information is understandable.
A rose by any other is still a rose. Breaching now has a new name, “Compliance Failures”, with the 8 week breaching period now referred to as a “Serious Failure” (to comply). This change of name has some interesting implications:
1) The breaching death toll count, under the new name of “Serious Failures” gets reset to Zero. Do a word search for Breaching of welfare recipients and you strike out as the terminology is no longer used.
2) Breaching deaths can now be called “Serious Failure to Comply Homicides”. That title is very accurate for, as decades of breaching “Compliance” reveals, it is all about “Do as we say or we will randomly kill some of you”.
3) If that sounds very familiar, it is because that is the “option” that Al Qeada and J.I. terrorists offer to western society. That is why breaching is an act of terrorism; the intention, implementation and lethal consequences of both breaching and terrorism are so close that it is difficult to differentiate between the two.
Centrelink’s “Compliance Frame work.” (Page 52)
“Participation Solutions Teams are responsible for considering all factors that may have contributed to a participation failure, especially taking account of a customer’s vulnerability and ability to comply”.
That statement is a text book Denial of Natural Justice.
1) Centrelink is the Accuser.
2) Centrelink sits in Judgement.
3) Centrelink passes Sentence.
Is Centrelink able to verify that the members of the Participation Solution Teams had no absolutely no involvement, either directly or indirectly, with:
1) Administrative Breaching for Convenience;
2) Vocational Breaching Competitions;
3) Job Network Breaching for Profit;
4) The Howard Government’s illegal enforcement of Breaching Quotas.
5) Without that assurance, Centrelink could be negligent by “Putting the foxes in charge of the hen house”.
Random Points to note:
1) 346,078 “Serious Failure” breaches in FY 2000-01 and 66,210 “Serious Failure” breaches in FY 2008-09. That represents a massive 522.69% reduction in breaching activity when comparing these two sets of breaching statistics.
2) 2,805 exceptionally vulnerable breached victims out of 66,210 represents 4.23% of all people breached in FY 2008-09. With some 3 million people have been breached, that means that there were as many as 120,000 exceptionally vulnerable victims of breaching and if even only 10% of these victims died, the real death toll, at 12,000+, would be well in excess of my estimate of 5,000+.
3) A death toll of that magnitude would put Centrelink in the same category as Al Qaeda!
4) It is no wonder that neither John Howard or Kevin Rudd have challenged my estimate!
5) Centrelink’s 190 page 2008-09 annual report contains 2 references to the word “Compassion” in the context of staff showing compassion to victims of natural disasters. There are no references to the word “Compassion” in reference to people who are the victims of the unemployment disaster.
6) Centrelink’s 2008-09 annual report contains no reference a Humanitarian Impact Statement.
7) Centrelink’s 2008-09 annual report contains 10 references to the word “Failure”.
8) Centrelink’s 2008-09 annual report contains 53 references to the word “Fraud”.
9) Centrelink’s 2008-09 annual report contains 50 references to the word “Compliance”.
10) Clearly, Centrelink’ Public Service administrators have little empathy for the people that they serve and do not trust them.
11) Equally clearly, Centrelink’ Public Service administrators have never reported the humanitarian consequences of breaching, a Serious Compliance Failure which raises the obvious question of what are they hiding?
12) Any welfare recipient who has been breached without any assessment of the humanitarian impact can jointly and severally sue both the Crown and individual Centrelink administrators for “Reckless Endangerment” and/or for being Defrauded of Legitimate Welfare Entitlements. Individually, no lawyer would act “Pro bono”, i.e. for free because it is in the Public Interest. Therefore, if you are considering doing so, I strongly recommend that you network with like minded people and consider a class action.
13) Mabo and Wik were ground breaking class actions in the High Court. These two successful landmark decisions have paved the way for a successful challenge to the validity of breaching legislation.
14) A simple reality is that whilst Breaching/Compliance Measures may be “Legal”, until this legislation is tested in the High Court, Centrelink management cannot claim that it is Constitutional. Once the High Court is confronted with the humanitarian consequences of breaching legislation, it is highly unlikely that this court will endorse breaching legislation.
Ron Medlicott (Christian welfare justice activist.)
“Put all things to the test: keep what is good and avoid every kind of evil”.
Good News Bible I Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 21.