Jobless take to Centrelink line

By Sophie Baldwin

AS THE ramifications of coronavirus start to filter through the community and a reality of life without work begins to hit home to many, Centrelink is fast becoming one of the busiest places in town.

At 8am Tuesday, the line was well out the door but those in the early morning queue said after doors opened at 8.30am, they moved through the process relatively quickly.

Melbourne university student Hannah Williams returned home to ride out the pandemic at her parents place.

She had trouble sourcing food and had lost both her cafe and babysitting jobs while her course went online.

She was the fourth person in the Centrelink line.

“Dad told me to get to Centrelink at 6.30am but I thought that was a bit early. I went down about 7am and there was hardly anyone around, so I sat in my car but other people started to arrive so I jumped in the line,” Hannah said.

While she was waiting, an unidentified woman walked past before returning 10 minutes later with three trays of free coffee.

“It was such a nice warm gesture. I had seen the line-ups outside of Centrelink on the news and I was definitely expecting the worst and this was such a kind and lovely thing to do,” Hannah said.

Small business owner and florist Greg Dunn was also in the line.

With weddings cancelled and his second job working in a restaurant gone, Centrelink is now his next option.

“I don’t know how long this is going to go on for. I have heard it could be three to six months,’’ he said.

‘‘People didn’t really start to take this seriously until they started losing jobs, I will try and find another one but I guess like everyone else, I will just have to wait it out.’’

Another person in the queue who chose to remain anonymous said they had been forced to close their pop-up shop.

“We can’t work which makes things difficult at this point in time, but at least the government is supporting small business and we have this as an option,’’ she said.

“There is a lot of uncertainty around and like so many people, I don’t think we took it serious enough at the start.’’