Hello friends… thank you all so much for your love and support following the video Thomas and I did yesterday asking for your support in helping him start his business Thomas Kent Can and get a job…
I just feel I need to explain where we have been in all of this process and if it has been like this for me then surely I am not the only one… and if I am then shame on me because clearly I am missing something.
This is not an attack on any of the business’s out there or the job providers… it is about the ‘system’… it just doesn’t seem to be working…
Now you may work in one of these systems and say, Julie that is not how it works… well this HAS been what happened, but happy for you to educate us about what I may be missing.
Thomas was with a work provider through his school based course doing his Certificate 2 in hospitality… now that meant he was working at a coffee shop one day a week and getting paid for that day… not paid by the coffee shop but by Epic… and that comes through government funding… nice… but of course when the course finishes, the funding stops and then they have another person doing another course and getting the funding… so you see where this goes… we tried to get a job there…but they felt his work outfit wasn’t up to standard and they could pay a junior (or get another kid with funding)… and I then say, well how about you pay him less until he is up to standard (I understand they have a business to run), but of course they can’t do that because it is illegal… he is an adult and has to be paid as an adult… another reason he now has an ABN… he can contract himself out at an agreed price.
So, at the end of school I ask the question to anybody who would listen, what do we do now to help get Thomas a job… I was told we go to Centrelink and get ‘Newstart Allowance’, this would get him in the ‘system’ and support him to get a job etc… now I have not stepped into a Centrelink office for years, but whatever we have to do… I go down there and they say fill out the form on line… so after 2 weeks of trying to fill out this fucking online form with a number of glitches that had us sitting in the Centrelink office for hours trying to fix… well finally when we get it all done, the last step was to upload my Tax return… well we get a message on the site to say ‘Your claim has been rejected’ I am so naive, I don’t understand so we go back to the Centrelink Office to be told that I earn to much money and Thomas can’t get Newstart… (I ask why they didn’t ask me the income question first so we didn’t have to go through all of this), but then I say, ‘But I didn’t come here for money, I came here to get him a job’… they then tell me that because he can’t get Newstart the Job Agencies won’t be able to get funding for Thomas… so that means they would not be motivated to find him a job… because that is how they get paid… funding… so now I am in tears and I say…
‘So, what you are telling me is that because when my husband died and I was left with two kids, one of them with Autism, well because I never came into a Centrelink Office for help, never had a breakdown, never needed up in the system… so because I went out and worked my arse off, did good, well because of that, now my son gets punished and doesn’t get to access the same benefits as he would if I didn’t do so well???’ ‘Is that right???’ I am now crying as I ask this… The gentleman says to me as he hands me a tissue… well Julie, I am sorry to tell you that is right?’
Now I am just saying that this is what happened to me… I am all for helping those he need help, but don’t punish those who did good!!!
So, then he says… ‘You could try for a disability pension’ What the fuck?… I didn’t come in for a hand out, we came in because we were told this was the first step to getting him a job! He can work. It is not just about the money, it is about nurturing his confidence and self-esteem… he needs a reason to wake every morning like the rest of us!!
And then a friend puts me in touch with somebody from an ‘Agency’ and they say they can do something… the help with the process… we go back to Centrelink… they do and interview with Thomas, asking him questions I know he doesn’t understand like, ‘Do you see a therapist regularly’… now he doesn’t, but Thomas doesn’t get the question, he doesn’t want to appear stupid, so he just says yes… and of course I am not there (because I am that naughty Mother that has a business earning money and I am away working), so the lady form the job agency is there but she is not allowed to intervene or answer for him because he is an adult… what the fuck. And have been too my solicitor about that process… of me talking for him… you have NO idea… another day about that.
And so now he has funding which means an employer can get help financially if they take him on… he has to work a minimum of 15 hours to access this funding… and they can apparently also provide help training him on the job to assist employer too… but it seems what I don’t understand is … this job agencies have ‘relationships’ with certain organisations… so I was looking at Coles online and approach our contact and say, how come we are not applying to Coles for a job… they support people with a disability, I rang this number and she said that you just need to give her permission to access Thomas’s file… but you see (silly, naive me), this is an opposition Job Agency, and they work with Coles, so he needs to be released from one Agency to go with another, and of course they don’t want to release you, because this is how they get paid, so it can take months… so how is this system working???
Why isn’t everybody working together to get them jobs not competing with each other??
And then with the job interviews… now this is a service supporting people with a disability… and they are lovely… and this is not an attack on any individual… but in my experience most of them know very little about the Autism
and the support they need to get a job… so I guess that is my job too… I ask when Thomas goes to an interview does the employer know he lives with Autism???
Well it is like the elephant in the room… he has a disability, but no-one is sure that we should use the label… so I say, ‘But I thought you were an advocate for Thomas… I mean who explains that he may not present in an interview the same way as people on the normal spectrum… he explains that he just needs to be shown what to do rather than just told… who explains that Thomas may not be able to sell himself as well as others in the interview…???’ I still don’t know the answer to that.
And I could go on… NDIS … oh boy …. I am about to start, but I will not, will not… pretend that Thomas is lower functioning than he is… I will not do that to access funding … but yes, will start that process because what the hell happens if I die tomorrow… I can’t leave this for Jack to sort.
So that has been our experience… there are so many wonderful people out there working in a system that doesn’t seem to be working …
What do we want for these people as a society… do we want them on handouts because we don’t want to give them a hand up??
Are we all more comfortable with that??
So we are doing what we can…while everybody is talking and talking about inclusion.
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