Student welfare is under attack. The Centrelink scandal enraged many, as thousands of the most vulnerable in society were charged with debts they don’t owe. The announcement that Sunday penalty rates for retail, fast food and hospitality workers will be cut greatly affects students, two thirds of whom already live in poverty.
This year, the National Union of Students Welfare Officer and Education Officer are running their campaigns in conjunction with each other, as they raise similar demands for students rights, against the Liberals’ attacks. The Welfare Department supports the NDA on March 22 – I’ve (Lily Campbell) been mass leafleting, painting banners and creating merchandise for that event and building the Education Action Group at O week. I am a regular attendee of EAG meetings.
I have done several stalls in Newtown over the summer break petitioning for the NUS Welfare Department, demanding that the government fix Centrelink now.
I chaired a recent rally outside the Redfern Centrelink office, demanding an end to fake debt letters and the gutting of social services. It was a lively demonstration that got significant media coverage, somewhat centred around the brilliant burning of a debt letter outside the office.
I also recently spoke at a rally against the cuts to penalty rates, outside the Fair Work Ombudsman. It is crucial that students join these rallies and join their unions today. The cuts to penalty rates will be the greatest wage cut since the Great Depression – now more than ever we need to fight back. I encourage all to join the March 9 CFMEU ‘National Rally to Defend our Jobs’.
Furthermore, a horrific wave of racism and bigotry is sweeping the world today. The Welfare Department stands in solidarity with all oppressed peoples against the rise of the far right and recognises the need to organise against these forces.
I participated in the Women’s March, the RAC rally against the Muslim Ban, the protest against war criminal Netanyahu and the protest against genocide in Aleppo, amongst other demonstrations.
(I contacted the other welfare officers for reports – they did not wish to contribute)