Marie is 49 years old and has worked as a cleaner since she was 18 years of age. She has worked in a range of jobs as a hospital cleaner. The job entails working long hours. In the last 10 years she has developed lower back pain affecting her mobility and causing severe constant pain. She is no longer able to work as she can no longer sit for extensive periods of time, nor undertake heavy duties. Her doctor has written several reports for Centrelink to explain her disability and its level of severity. Her doctor has also been on a telephone interview with Marie to explain her medical history to the Centrelink doctor. Despite this, Marie does not qualify for the DSP, even though she lives with severe pain, has significantly impaired mobility as a result of long years of working as a hospital cleaner. Marie waited almost 18 months to be told she does not qualify. She is in severe financial stress.
As Marie lives in a small regional town she is unable to get work, of any kind, as there are few jobs available. Jobs that are available she is unable to do because of her impairment.
Marie finds the fortnightly management of her Newstart payment confusing and the reporting requirements expensive. She needs to get a bus to and from the offices for reporting as she lives on the outskirts of town. Buses are infrequent. This means when she catches the bus, she has to wait for hours at the Centrelink office before and after her reporting. This increases the severity of physical pain she experiences and worsening her mobility. Even though Marie has worked for more than 20 years, paying her taxes, she is now accessing her superannuation to subsidise the cost of very basic living. She often only has one meal a day, consisting of bread and jam with a cup of tea. This situation of distress is increasingly affecting her mental health and she is becoming severely depressed.Share this