ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

A 60-year-old man with a broken body and no superannuation has been informed by his local GP that he’ll have to either go on the dole, find work, or start growing cannabis in the creek down the back because she’s not prepared to sign off on his inability to work.

Despite walking with a stick due to arthritis and being essentially computer illiterate, Wavell Blickson has been told that his unemployment payments hinge on him making contact with a local jobs agency and applying for roles in the area that he has no ability to do.

Wavell lives in Betoota Ponds, over the railway tracks and beyond Rush Street, in a small house he purchased some years ago when times were better. But as time wore on, he found himself increasingly unable to work and locked out of health services simply because they don’t exist that far out of our town’s central business district.

After finally seeing a bulk-billing doctor in the French Quarter, Wavell was told he was still able to work because he was still able to breathe on his own and without the aid of a machine.

“The doctor said she’s unwilling, you know, to write to the government and say I’m essentially rooted and can’t get a job out here because I can’t do computers and my knees look like old rockmelons these days due to the arthritis,” he explained to The Advocate.

“So I go to the jobs agency; I have to apply to six jobs a month, otherwise they’ll cut my payments off and put me out on the street. So I go to this jobs agency, and the woman behind the desk just shakes her head as I come in. The only jobs she could find at the moment are fruit-picking work, so she had a laugh, and we applied for it. I was honest on my CV and everything, telling my prospective employer that I can only stand for about five minutes, I’m half-blind, half-deaf, and 60 years old,”

“Didn’t hear back from that one [laughs] No, it’s not like I want to sit on the Disability Support Pension and do nothing, but there’s not much else I can do, is there? Oh well, five more years, and I can get on the pension.”

More to come.


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