Annaliese Constable has been on the Australian welfare payment Newstart for 20 months. For the past 24 months Annaliese has had chronic health issues including chronic pain with ailments such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, a spinal injury and daily migraines with nausea and photophobia and noise sensitivity. In the last 20 months Annaliese has had two surgeries addressing her endometriosis and one 6 week hospitalisation to manage her depression. Annaliese’s application for the disability support pension has been rejected twice. Annaliese has been covered by a medical certificate for the last 20 months. This medical certificate should preclude her from looking for work or meeting with a job network provider. Despite this Annaliese has been regularly harangued by the Australian Welfare System (Centrelink) and more specifically her job network provider Geoff demanding that she attend appointments with the threat of her payment being cut if she does not attend. In the following article Annaliese applies for her job network officer Geoff’s job.

To my beloved Centrelink job network officer Geoff,

I am writing to apply for the unadvertised and currently filled position of your job.

I’ve decided to put my chronic health issues on hold. When I put my mind to it the depression, daily migraines, spinal injury, endometriosis, osteoarthritis and PTSD all just disappeared. Imagine that. You were right! I just needed to snap out of it. Once I snapped, like the two times my left knee’s anterior cruciate ligament has snapped, I realised that my inability to work was all in my head. My gloriously depressed head. Once I started thinking of Centrelink as a paternalistic abusive father I was able to accept the relentless oppression and control that you have over my life.

Sometimes I would wonder if you’d been broken by the system too but then you told me your job was ‘just a hobby’ to you and I realised maybe you arrived broken. Controlling my life is a hobby to you. You’ve also mentioned that working for a job network provider is well below you, especially considering your previous, la di da, work as a lawyer. Now that I’ve seen how you lord over people’s lives I think I might like to try it. They always say you should train as a sub before you play as a dom.

I have all of the attributes that would make me an asset in any oppressive and disempowering system such as Centrelink. Even better I’ve been poor my whole life so I’m already ahead of you — know your enemy right Geoff?

I have the innate ability to tell people their lives would be better if they could stop being sick at the same time as refusing to acknowledge that they are, despite their best efforts, in fact, very sick.

Like you, I am fully committed to the ritualistic shaming of the poor. On Tuesdays I go to Vinnies to hiss at the destitute and sickly. I’m perfect for a job network provider role as I possess an expert level in condescending tone and have regular bouts of severe patronisation. I am also wildly proficient in sarcasm and other forms of passive aggression. I’m a package deal.

If asked I will follow any order even if it is clearly inhumane. When questioned why I do what I’m told, like you, I will say, “I have no choice,” and then clearly choose to log in to a ‘customer’s’ file and choose to select ‘cancel payment’.

Despite my being on a rolling medical certificate for 20 months you never failed to send me a text nearly every day of the 6 weeks that I was in a psychiatric hospital reminding me that you were cancelling my payments for not making it to an appointment you set without telling me. LOL. Geoff you’re so funny.

I called and asked you to turn off the payment cancellation text reminders. You were not helpful. I, too, can also be very difficult. That’s why I know I’d smash your job out of the park. You’re a roadblock Geoff. You’re a wall. Maybe you could get a job in Trump’s America.

Like you, I speak bureaucracy in three different languages seemingly none of them human. I’d enjoy the opportunity to speak with your superior in person about the ways in which I can mirror your talents and supersede them in other areas. For instance, as a woman, I have been trained to smile despite being empty inside. It is just one of the services I offer.

Remember the day I complimented you on your shoes? All of a sudden you were nice to me. Geoff if your back was itchy you should have told me. I’d be happy to collect your dead skin particles under my nails. A job’s a job.

A lot of hassle for a hobby isn’t it Geoff? At your request I sent you my resume and an example cover letter I have previously used. You spent fifteen minutes explaining to me that I should change the cover letter for each new job that I apply for. Thank you Geoff, when my chronic pain and other permanent disabilities clear up I’ll be sure to do that. I just put some deep heat on it so we should be good to go in about 10 minutes or so.

While I am not a man I have been trained in the art of mansplaining through a lifetime of non consensual exposure therapy. I will take my mansplaining responsibility seriously. For instance, when I am in your role, I will routinely explain the best way to make my coffee to the women in the office. Not too hot. Not too cold. Not too gay. You can never be too careful.

Remember when you told me you don’t make sick people look for work while I was literally sitting in front of you crying, hobbled over in pain straining to make eye contact with you because my migraine and spinal injury forced my upper body to seize in paralysis. ROFLMAO, you’re such a card Geoff.

Clowns usually scare me and you’re no exception but you scare me because I don’t understand you. Although I do finally understand why all the furniture in Centrelink is anchored to the ground. The amount of times I’ve considered flipping the bird or a desk is obscene. Luckily for everyone my spinal injury and lack of money restricts me only to flipping 5cent coins, used to decide which meal I’ll skip that day.

Maybe you’ve been in the system so long you have Stockholm syndrome and you need saving. Speaking from experience, as a general rule, Centrelink and the Government do not have your best interest at heart, unless you are part of the royal elite.

But you and I are just pawns Geoff. The only difference is that you’re a pawn that has chosen to be part of the system and I’m a pawn that is forced into the system out of necessity. But if all the pawns worked together we could overthrow the entire game. We could be allies.

So for now I’ll pass on your job. Chronic pain is horrendous but the pain of working somewhere that decimates people’s will to live would be harder. Instead I invite you to join me and the other pawns in the streets because 16 pawns is a big enough army to finish any royal elite.