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Your views: on elective surgery, schools and Centrelink

Reader contributions

Today, readers comment on elective surgery bans, whether students should attend school in a pandemic, and Centrelink income reporting.

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Commenting on the story: Why flattening the curve gives our hospitals more time to prepare

I am concerned that the abrupt closure of all private hospitals was an overkill. 

As a health professional I understand the need to secure extra beds, especially ICU beds. 

What I don’t understand is why day surgery has been stopped, when the need for extra beds for COVID-19 victims would surely have at least 24 hours’ notice so that elective and day surgery could be cancelled progressively on a day-by-day basis.

I know of two patients who are in severe pain: one needing a knee replacement and the other a hip replacement through the private system.  Both had been one week away from their scheduled surgery which has now been cancelled.

Despite their severe pain and disability, they do not fit into the “urgent” category so will remain on an indefinite waiting list whilst private hospital beds in a fully staffed hospital lie empty.

Whilst it is possible that either or both could have post-surgical complications, it is inhumane to keep them on a waiting list as their pain and disability increases when they are aware that the facilities are not being used. 

Surely some elective surgery for such patients could continue, albeit on a limited basis.

This also applies to day surgery patients, including colonoscopies, where a premalignant polyp may be removed or more serious pathology identified promptly instead of in six months’ time.

These patients would not occupy a hospital “bed” or need nursing care 24/7 but will cause the eventual waiting lists to blow out to unmanageable levels.

There are private clinics where such procedures are regularly performed and they have been closed, even though they are unsuitable facilities for the care of COVID-19 patients.

I hope that some reassessment can be undertaken as a matter of urgency because it is a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. – Ella Tyler

Commenting on the story: Should you send your child to school?

Given that not all school teachers and students at Yr 12 have the facility nor the capability to undertake online learning/teaching, might I suggest that there be no formal Yr 12 end of year examinations providing a university entrance mark, and instead allow students to complete their normal subjects resulting in  traditional school grades, and offer those who wish to go to university, the opportunity to take a Special Tertiary Admissions Test.

This seems to me, a simple and fair solution to the extraordinary stresses confronting Yr 12 students in this coronavirus-infected year. – Peter Muller

Commenting on the story: Centrelink reporting halt raises debt concerns

I just read the article about this reporting issue as I report religiously every fortnight, and when I tried it came up with it was unavailable.

When I called I was on hold for 1 hour and 27 mins, to then have the phone disconnect.

The next day I went on and tried to report again, to get a response of there is nothing you are required to report and it was closed off as if I had reported. 

Now like others I thought this was a one off, as a few days prior I received an SMS saying all obligations have been put on hold until April 21, which I thought due to all this coronavirus we were given some leeway. 

Now upon reading this I’m hearing I have 14 days to report my earnings, which is difficult as I work all day then when I do call up and wait I get hung up on and it doesn’t give me the option to do it online, so what the hell do I have to do. 

I have had debts from Centrelink over the years for doing what the customer service person has advised with reporting my earning, then somehow it’s wrong. 

So I do not want another debt for their stuff-up again. 

Can we please get clarity on this and as I do not have any social media whatsoever I don’t get these notifications.

I am just lucky I read what I did today. Kathy Dilkes

People worried about incurring a Centrelink debt, because the system doesn’t allow them to report any income they have earned in the last fortnight, should put their worries aside.

They will be excused, due to the extraordinary situation we all find ourselves in. – Hans von Chrismar

I had no trouble ringing the usual income reporting phone line and submitted my income as usual. Maybe there was an issue later in the day.

I also got onto MyGov about 1330, it took about 15 minutes to load but I did what I wanted through Centrelink. 

So again I am surprised so many said they couldn’t get on. Was there a particular time of day this occurred?

Anyway good luck to everyone trying to get through. Just put the phone on speaker and do other things while waiting .

Take care and keep smiling. Kirsten Strudwick

I encountered the same problem as described in your article. A number of issues arise.

Firstly, there was no advice or warning of Centrelink’s intention to drop the reporting requirement for that week.

People who have been faithfully and accurately reporting may now have been intentionally overpaid by Centrelink.

The onus has been abrogated by Centrelink from them to the individual recipient, purely because of their problem with their internal system,

Deferring reporting for one week due to the pandemic overload will not overcome the problem, it will simply move it back two weeks and exacerbate the problem.

There will still be many new unemployed trying to contact Centrelink, as well as every other current recipient trying to get through to sort this mess out which has been foisted on them. 

A total debacle likely to adversely affect many who just do not need the additional stress at present.

It is apparent with this debacle and robo-debt that Centrelink has employed someone full time to think up ways to stuff the system. He’s doing a sterling job. Geoff Randall

I am a pensioner, retired, but required to report the earnings of my wife , who is younger and works part time.

I was unable to submit her earnings for the two weeks ended 30 March, as the reporting site crashed during my entries.

The site now states I have reported her earnings but cannot retrieve the data because if was submitted by some other method. I have no idea what information they have.

I am concerned that my pension will automatically be terminated for failure to report or for reporting incorrect information. – Lawrence Maroni

Everything this lady is complaining about from Centrelink is real, and has been going on for a lot longer than Coronavirus has been alive.

They really do make it as hard and stressful as possible. Through well-calculated errors, glitches and rules, I and many others I know have been cheated of money from Centrelink many times.

As an example, myself and all my housemates lived for months as full-time university students with no rent assistance because they wouldn’t update our accommodation details despite calling multiple times.

The rent assistance would have been backpaid, but it was a catch-22; because we didn’t change our details soon enough, we got nothing and there was nothing we could do about it.

The Centrelink system is full of examples like this. No one cares because we’re all ‘scrounging off taxpayer money’ anyway.

It’s good to see other people realising all the little things that make being on welfare a shameful and stressful experience.

Anyone who has had to deal with Centrelink will attest that it is designed this way on purpose. – Kiarna Grace

I have no idea what people are worried about.

In cases where people have a earned a good full week of wages, or any high amount of money for the fortnight then I clearly suggest that spending any amount of your automatic payment from Centrelink will certainly put you in debt, at no fault of Centrelink.

For those who can resist temptation, this will be easy for you. For those who can’t resist temptation to spend the automatic payment, you will most certainly have a debt to repay.

For those who earned much less for the fortnight such as 30 hrs approximately then depending on the gross income (lets say around $25 per hour) then it might be safe to say that you could use approximately 50% of the automatic payment, leaving the other 50% in your bank in the case that you may have incurred a small debt.

It really does boil down to being responsible, and cautious at this time.

However, if you really are worried about spending any of your automatic payment then simply just don’t touch it, contact Centrelink, and they can work it out via their calculator, and if you are overpaid by Centrelink then you can make arrangements over the phone there, and then to repay the small amount.

Centrelink is there to help you in these times of struggle and hardship, however they are not here to hold your hand. The responsibility falls on the recipient, and not Centrelink.

Those who are receiving Centrelink payments should be very grateful as today there are many people doing it a lot tougher, and those who can declare employment income are the lucky ones who still have a job up to this date. – Jack McEvoy

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