In accordance with the legislation …

My patience was wearing thin when I heard the so-called phrase a few times both over the phone and in person. ‘A tailor-made response for a difficult customer,’ I thought. Or may be a ready-made response to vanquish a customer who is capable of independent thinking. If you are wondering what the confrontational scenario is, for someone on  government support payments, I committed the glorious mistake of earning an incredibly high income within thirty to thirty five days which stopped three to four fortnightly payments causing a hole in my wallet as I wisely used the income to make advance payments for rent and car loan.

A short phrase, synonymous with the law, put an end to hours of deliberate planning and well thought out speech just like that in a few seconds leaving a helpless me clinging to, ‘So, that’s your response?’ My efforts to paint a picture of a damsel in severe economic hardship were completely shattered. I wondered if starvation was around the corner for I encountered a huge disappointment when my application for an early release of $10,000 from my superannuation was rejected earlier in the day in the name of legislation eliciting a Godzilla-roar out of me to a nonchalant staff at the receiving end. Parrot-like, she repeatedly emphasized on the, ‘last 26 weeks of government support payments not being continuous owing to a casual assignment I was fortunate to have obtained or so I thought until that moment of cathartic release.

When the call ended, I wondered if my strategy of ‘carpe diem’ to break the prolonged period of an unemployment, as any righteous citizen should do, was actually an erroneous move; a move that not only deprived me of three fortnightly jobseeker payments but also terminated my plans to keep the ball rolling by borrowing from my super when it became difficult to make the ends meet. The bewildering experience made me somewhat reluctant to accept casual assignments in future.

What good is a legislation if it hurls a man or a woman into the abyss of despair? A minimum payment, like $8.80 as energy supplement each fortnight would have kept the support payments continuous for the last 26 weeks and made me eligible for requesting an earlier release from my retirement funds. Energy rebates offered by Services NSW as $50.00 vouchers were emailed to me when I was a recipient of step 13 pay scale and before my job seeker status.

Rules are meant to be followed, however flexible rules formulated to cater to the specific or urgent needs of the clients would not only have enhanced customer satisfaction but also added meaning to such timely financial assistance programs.

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