The Australian government agency Centrelink is facing media backlash for threatening to cease the welfare payments of a 102-year-old pensioner for failure to prove her identity.
An elderly woman in Punchbowl is at her wit's end following threats from Centrelink to withdraw her pension if she failed to provide proof of identity.
The government agency addressed a letter to the bed-bound Anne Hawkins in July, mandating her to provide the proof of identity in person.
Photo of a bed bound elderly woman | Photo: twitter.com/newscomauHQ
However, Anne's children opened up about their attempts to sort out the situation, given their mom's condition. Aside from being bedridden, the 102-year-old woman's only means of identification was her Australian Citizenship, which the agency has since rejected.
Centrelink insisted the family provided other forms of IDs, like an NSW proof of age card. Mary Byrnes, Anne's daughter, explained that providing the proof the agency demanded was difficult, as it would require them to convey her by ambulance and wheel her into the facility on a hospital bed.
The woman's son, Frank Hawkins, also tried explaining the situation to the agency to plead leniency, to no avail. According to him, Centrelink failed to provide any alternative, forcing the family to break the news to Anne, despite their resolve to protect her from the aggravation.
Photo of a sad elderly woman | Photo: Pexels
Surprisingly, the elderly woman received the news better than expected, joking that she may have to get a job. Receiving the letter from Centrelink at the peak of the Sydney lockdown made the family more frustrated.
Special arrangements were in place to support those unable to show up at a service center to prove their identities.
Frank expressed disappointment that the government agency would try to force their mom out during the lockdown and put her at risk of contracting the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Elderly woman and her daughter smiling at each other | Photo: Pexels
Local MP Tony Burke, who has been advocating for the family, demanded that the agency explain why they made such an outrageous demand. The government has since pledged to look into the incident.
Linda Reynolds, a Government Services Minister, offered her sincere apologies over the turn of events. She also reassured the family of her intention to determine the precise account of the events.
She maintained that the highest priority of Australia's government was the health and safety of customers and staff. Additionally, the agency was committed to observing health orders put in place by the relevant authorities.
Photo of an old woman playing chess while sitting on a couch | Photo: Pexels
To ensure their affairs ran smoothly without risking their client's safety, special arrangements were in place to support those unable to show up at a service center to prove their identities.
Despite the reassurances received from the government to get to the bottom of the situation, Anne Hawkins' family still demands answers as to why their mom was suddenly singled out to prove her identity.
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