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Last night, Ricci Bartels eloquently described her experience on Newstart. What wasn’t said was that she was on the board (and has featured in the media releases) of ACOSS, an NFP lead by the Q&A panellist who fielded her question.

 

 

Last night, a question from the QandA audience echoed the thoughts of many, as one speaker empathetically articulated her own brutal experience on welfare. The speaker in question, Ricci Bartels later turned Scott Morrison’s fabled maxim against him. “What would you or how would you suggest people like me have a go to get a go?” she repeatedly asked the panel.

 

 

Fair enough, but one must examine who sat on the panel, as well as who asked the question.

One was Dr Cassandra Goldie, the CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). The same institution that the questioner sat on the board of until 2013. Bartels also featured in ACOSS media releases in 2018. Goldie has held the position since 2010. While Bartels prefaced her comment by noting that she was a board member of a not-for-profit community service institution, neither party mentioned their shared ground.

 

The ACOSS website

 

 

Facebook

 

According to Bartel’s LinkedIn profile, she is currently employed by the Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre. But after placing a call to the centre, The Big Smoke can confirm that Bartels has not worked for the centre for at least five years. According to the Australia Council of Social Service’s guidelines, “no remuneration or equivalent benefit will be paid or given by the Council to a member of the Council or any Board member.”

No-one is accusing her of doctoring her story or financially benefitting from her position. Anyone who heard the story knows it rings true. Whether it be her, or someone we know. The removal of a safety net and the dehumanisation of those on welfare is extremely familiar.

The question is why.

Raising the rate is the salient issue. Why obfuscate the facts? Having a great warrior of social services, seeing the problem on both sides of the desk, as Bartels has, is a hell of a story. Admitting to their connection would solidify the narrative. Judging to the response this morning, people want to hear her story.

So why leave it unnoted?

 

Update: In response to The Big Smoke, ACOSS stating that “Cassandra Goldie’s appearance on Q&A and encouraged people receiving Newstart to submit questions. Ms Bartels is well respected in the community sector. She proactively and independently asked her question. She was an ACOSS Board member from 2011 to 2013. An NMOR is simply an ACOSS national member organisation representative. Ms Bartels represented the Settlement Services Council of Australia which she chaired at the time.”

 

 

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