My holidays are nearing an end and I haven’t accomplished half of what I wanted to do.
So in a desperate catch-up effort this week I’m trying to get at least the vitally important stuff completed.
Yesterday I introduced Hippie Child to the great world of bureaucracy. We even went down the dark abyss that is Centrelink.
We encountered a few problems.
First up she somehow managed to misplace her driver’s licence. Even she’s not sure how she did it considering it doesn’t come out of her wallet. Anyway you can’t do anything without PHOTO ID (that is her licence).
We entered the vast domain of Centrelink and encountered the gatekeepers.
Ahead of us we heard this.
Frazzled mother 1 – “There’s been a mistake with my school kids bonus, I’ve tried calling the number but it’s constantly engaged, I’ve tried at all different times but it’s just always engaged. There was a mistake last year too but I just gave up on trying to fix it.”
Centrelink guy – “You have to deal with that department on the phone. Try calling at 8.00am when the lines open”.
Frazzled mother 1 – “But really it’s just always engaged”.
Centrelink guy – “Well I can put you on the phones over there (points to a bank of cubicles each fitted with a phone) that will get you around the engaged signal but you will still have to wait”.
Frazzled mother 1 – “I think I’ll just go home”.
Then we got to Frazzled mother 2 – much younger children hanging off her legs – trying to inform Centrelink to changes in circumstances since her divorce.
Frazzled mother 2 – I need to change an appointment time, I can’t do the time you’ve given me, I tried calling the number on the letter you sent but I just wait and wait and nobody ever gets to my call.
Centrelink – you can change that online.
Frazzled mother 2 – but I just wanted to talk someone about it and just get it changed.
Centrelink – it will be faster if you change it online.
By this stage Hippie Child is starting to wonder aloud why nobody gets beyond the gatekeepers.
Hippie Child – there’s people over there at desks with nobody – couldn’t they talk to these people?
Me – don’t try to be logical and for gods sake be quiet we still have to get past them ourselves.
At our turn it was made perfectly clear we weren’t getting past without the driver’s licence.
Me – Look we can get the paper print out from the RTA to say we are getting a replacement licence and we have her P1 licence which only expired on the 25th of December that has her photo and is the same number and everything. We have birth certificate, medicare card, bank card …
Me – what about her student ID – has her photo – expires January 2016.
Centrelink – she’s not at school anymore so that ID expired on the 31st of December 2015.
Me- but it just says January 2016 that could be anytime in January.
Centrelink – it was 31st of December 2015.
The only useful piece of information we did get was that Wauchope RTA might still print the licences on the spot.
I tried calling but of course it goes to a calling centre god knows where and I got put on hold. I JUST WANT TO KNOW IF WAUCHOPE PRINTS LICENCES I scream at the muzak.
In the end I took a punt, so 20 minutes up the road to the delightfully old fashioned “print while you wait” service of Wauchope. Why isn’t that still the norm everywhere?
Back to Centrelink and we got sent to the computers to “wait for Jim”. I did mention that Jim was nowhere to be seen and customers where just working by themselves on the bank of computers that sit next to the bank of phones. “He’s just helping someone he won’t be long”.
Ten minutes later I was pretty sure Jim had gone to lunch. Later confirmed when Jim walked past with his MacDonalds.
Eventually though she was certified as an adult with her own account. We just had to log on and put in a new password. We tried four variations but the computer said no. “Password doesn’t fit our format”. But no details of what the format was supposed to be. Eventually we attracted the attention of Jim who had finished his maccas … needs to be six letters and a number … I suggest the designers of their site really need to include all the information in the error codes. Jim agrees.
So now, our time of assistance is over and we’ve been sent home to complete the 24 page form to see if she’s eligible for any youth assistance at home, online, because that will be faster.
Tax forms, passport, uni accommodation – she’s getting RSI from the form filling – welcome to adulthood my dear!