Breaching Deaths: Plausible Denial, Reckless Indifference or just plain old fashioned incompetence?

(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.)

“Centrelink collects compliance data on behalf of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). Centrelink does not collect ‘Post Breaching Terminal Outcome Statistics’ and is therefore unable to assist with your request for this information”.

The blue printed statement above comes from a Centrelink letter, (reference number C10/1866), that is hand dated 18 May 2010. It is absolutely critical to question why isn’t Centrelink keeping a record of the deaths and other inhumane consequences that have resulted from the ruthlessly insensitive implementation of Breaching/Compliance measures?  ACCOUNTABILITY requires TRANSPARENCY and by failing to accurately record the humanitarian impact of compliance measures, those who enforce them can easily avoid accountability for the consequences of their actions.

There are numerous reason why there is no record of the negative human impact of compliance measures such as the supposedly ‘unintended’ death toll triggered by the act of deliberately depriving at-risk people of their only means of support. From the following list, pick which reasons you think are the most logical and if you can think of any other reasons, please add them in the comments section at the end of this particular blog.

1. Politicians do not want to know about these embarrassing deaths and in order to give them “Plausible Deniability”; a policy of “Don’t ask and we won’t tell” is in place.

2. Politicians and/or bureaucrats simply do not care about the impact of ‘Compliance Measures” on welfare recipients, i.e. they have a Reckless Indifference to the consequences of compliance measures”. The fact that the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission is not allowed to intervene and take action over the human rights violations involved in the compliance measures process is fairly solid evidence that this may be the most likely answer.

3. Those responsible for the care of welfare recipients are fully aware that these deaths violate criminal laws such as Manslaughter caused by a reckless indifference to human life and therefore they are not to keen to be held accountable for these deaths.

4. The politicians and bureaucrats responsible for welfare recipients are just plain incompetent and have absolutely no idea of the consequences of “unintended consequences” despite community reports (The Pearce Inquiry report)and official reports such as the 2004 Breaching Review Taskforce report.

5. Breaching triggered deaths may be hidden in the Centrelink database under a different name***. In 2004, the term used for turning off the dole was still known as “Breaching” but in 2010 it is now referred to as a “pay-as-you-go compliance measure”. When the name is changed, the data accumulation process gets cut off.

Try building a boat ramp on to a beach and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will cost millions of dollars and take years to complete. These days even very minor projects like removing a diseased tree from your back yard requires mountains of paper work and approval certificates from government departments and the local council before the tree can be removed. However, there is absolutely no Human Impact Statement and thus no Human Impact Report when it comes to the humanitarian impact of Centrelink’s so called “Compliance Measures”.

At the very least, the statement in the above mentioned Centrelink letter is a clear admission of a serious failure of Duty of Care by Centrelink administrators, who from day one of the introduction of compliance measures, should have collected data on the impact of these measures and ensured that this information was accurately reported to parliament. The admission that Centrelink has failed to collect this data is absolutely appalling. This frank admission of a massive breach of DUTY OF CARE obligation effectively means that we taxpayers are being exposed to what may well prove to be our nation’s largest, potential indefensible, legal liability!

Thousands of people have clubbed together to sue the NAB for allegedly charging excessive fees. So think about just how big a compo’ bill we taxpayers will have to pay if 3 million breached welfare recipients should decide to sue the Federal Government for Breach of Duty of Care???

***Please note: name changing to bury embarrassing or sensitive information is a dirty trick that I have encountered before. I was a teacher with the South Australian Education Department (DECS) from 1971 to 1993. From 1987 to 1993, I blew the whistle on serious classroom safety problems. In 2004, I discovered that my personnel file could not be found in the DECS personnel database. I eventually discovered that my ID details had been changed, e.g. my payroll number had been switched around from 012345678 to 123456708 (example only – not my real number) and a ‘typo’ misspelling of my name effectively ensured that my file would be buried and  thus would not be accessible to people who may wish to sue DECS for the consequences of exposure to some of the hazardous substances found in many DECS classrooms, e.g. airborne Asbestos dust.

Ron Medlicott (Christian welfare justice activist.)

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