Many government services and national, industrial-scale charities working with millions of Australians increasingly assume that digital access and literacy is universal, but it is still far from reality.
The closure of Centrelink service centres and increased demand for Centrelink telephone services has made it difficult for Jeff to access Centrelink throughout the pandemic. Like many clients, Jeff has very basic computer literacy and relies upon free computers at libraries and community centres which were also closed. While the Covid-19 supplement to the Newstart/JobSeeker payment and the reduced requirement to actively seek employment during lockdown has been a positive for many, communicating with Centrelink has been made more difficult.
When Jeff’s library reopened he had to print important documents, but the library only allowed 15 minutes computer access per customer. Jeff said that due to his limited computer skills this was not enough time to him to find and then print the documents.
Caxton Legal Centre’s social work service acknowledged Jeff’s frustration with this situation and helped him brainstorm solutions. Caxton’s social worker continues to provide Jeff with broader support while he receives assistance for legal issues.