Home Australia How jobseeker Jez Heywood’s Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union continues to spend a fortune on itself but barely gives a penny to those in need

How jobseeker Jez Heywood’s Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union continues to spend a fortune on itself but barely gives a penny to those in need

by Elijah
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Jez Heywood refused to answer questions about his 'union' in Melbourne when questioned by Daily Mail Australia (above)

Job seeker Jez Heywood’s Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union still has a rich treasure chest of cash donations, but barely gave a penny to those in need.

Despite the union’s hefty bank balance of $134,560, it awarded just $2,500 in grants last year.

Instead, he spent more than 97 percent of his annual budget on himself, mostly on travel, food and drink, legal bills and “subscriptions.”

The group, registered as a tax-exempt charity, was at the center of controversy last year after a Daily Mail Australia investigation revealed it had huge cash reserves.

Daily Mail Australia also revealed that several key union officials are former private school students, including one who is the son of a Victorian County Court judge.

The union claims to fight for the unemployed and is demanding an end to the unemployed being forced to look for work, as well as wanting a big increase in payments to jobseekers.

Its latest figures submitted to the Australian Charities Commission reveal the union still retains a huge cash reserve and handed out a small fraction in grants.

Jez Heywood refused to answer questions about his 'union' in Melbourne when questioned by Daily Mail Australia (above)

Jez Heywood refused to answer questions about his ‘union’ in Melbourne when questioned by Daily Mail Australia (above)

Latest figures provided by the union to the Australian Charities Commission reveal it still holds a huge cash reserve and handed out a small fraction in grants.

Latest figures provided by the union to the Australian Charities Commission reveal it still holds a huge cash reserve and handed out a small fraction in grants.

Latest figures provided by the union to the Australian Charities Commission reveal it still holds a huge cash reserve and handed out a small fraction in grants.

Its operating expenses have skyrocketed to $90,451, more than triple the $31,756 costs in 2022.

It received $46,817 in donations, but in total, the group donated only $2,500 in an unspecified “grant/donation to the organization.”

It also spent $6,450 on unspecified ‘fee’ payments, which are typically a fee paid for work performed voluntarily, up from $700 the previous year.

Nearly a third of its expenses were spent on travel, with officials and key members running up a bill of nearly $29,000, up from $3,030 a year earlier.

The union spent more than $7,000 on ‘food and beverage’ last year, up from just $14 in 2022, while printing and stationery costs increased more than a hundredfold, from $35 to $4,607.

It also spent another $7,278 on unspecified ‘subscriptions’ (up from $1,614 the previous year), as well as $6,000 on ‘office expenses’, up from $2,072 in 2022.

Another $5,365 was spent on “online assets,” up from $2,126 previously, while “overhead expenses” tripled from $1,262 to $3,664.

Heywood is the union’s president and a long-time unemployed graphic designer who refused to answer Daily Mail Australia’s questions about the union’s finances.

THE LONG JOB SEARCH OF ‘JOB SEEKER JEZ’

AUWU president Jez Heywood lives with his elderly parents in an apartment behind their detached bungalow in Melbourne’s southeast.

He says he has been trying to find a job “for more than a decade” and has applied for “thousands of jobs, usually competing with a few hundred others.”

But he says that in all that time, for 2021, he only had six interviews and only three job offers.

One got him fired, another quit because he was “toxic” and another was at a company that was going out of business, he said.

He admits he suffered a “considerable” mental breakdown in 2019 as a result of his long-term unemployment, but is now too traumatized to work a full workweek.

He was a guest on air with 2GB’s Ben Fordham last year after criticizing the radio host as a bully and a coward for suggesting he was a “dole bludger”.

But he admitted the best thing that had happened to him was when the job search rate doubled during Covid.

He lives in a granny flat with his retired parents near Frankston, in Melbourne’s southeast, and gave the middle finger when asked about the union’s finances last year.

He led a delegation to Canberra in September to demand an end to “mutual obligations” that require unemployed people to prove they are actively seeking work while receiving Jobseeker.

Workforce Australia requires unemployed people to earn up to 100 points each month by applying for jobs, attending courses, attending job interviews and keeping appointments.

Anyone who fails to meet their target can have their jobseeker payments removed, but Heywood, 48, said it was too stressful to bear.

He admitted suffering a “massive” mental breakdown during his decade on the dole and was allowed to skip his mutual obligations for three months at a time on medical advice.

“I had a massive breakdown, stayed in bed and cried for a week,” Julian Hill, chair of Workforce Australia’s Employment Services select committee, told Labor MP.

“I obtained an exemption from mutual obligations (medical certificates), but that was already causing me anxiety…

“Every three months I had to run the risk of having my medical certificate revoked by some Centrelink person with no medical experience.”

Centrelink eventually stopped accepting his medical certificates, he said, after he was told his condition was permanent and asked to re-sign every fortnight.

“So now it’s a two-week anxiety cycle of fulfilling my job search obligations and everything else and then having biweekly meetings with them,” he said.

And you know, unemployment isn’t fun enough as it is. “We don’t need all this other shit on top of it.”

He has had repeated on-air and online clashes with 2GB host Ben Fordham, with the radio host trying to find him a job and Mr Heywood rejecting an employer’s on-air job offer.

“It’s hard to find things that my brain can handle,” he told Fordham.

‘I can’t constantly commit to something. My brain gets incredibly exhausted.’

Last year, Daily Mail Australia revealed the union had savings of more than $178,000, but had again only handed out another $2,500 in grants.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the union for comment.

THE UNEMPLOYED UNION… THAT’S REALLY NOT A UNION!

The Australian Unemployed Workers Union was founded in 2014, but has never actually been a formal union.

The Australian Unemployed Workers Union was founded in 2014, but has never actually been a formal union.

The Australian Unemployed Workers Union was founded in 2014, but has never actually been a formal union.

The Australian Union of Unemployed Workers was founded in 2014, but is not a formal union.

It registered as an Incorporated Association in 2015 and then as a non-profit charity in 2020.

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus previously had to clarify that the organization is not a registered union nor affiliated with the ACTU.

Its website says its aim is to “protect the rights and dignity of the unemployed and alleviate poverty and disadvantage”.

It is funded almost entirely by donations from supporters and was boosted by a single donation of $39,317 in 2020/21 and $41,617 from recurring donations last year.

It has created a toll-free “national defense hotline” that operates four hours a day, five days a week, fielding calls from desperate job seekers.

The AUWU says its goal is to provide information resources to the unemployed and welfare recipients, while fighting for their rights.

He has also carried out surveys to gauge unemployed people’s views on life on JobSeeker and campaigned for an increase in unemployment benefits.

The AUWU website says its aim is to “protect the rights and dignity of the unemployed and alleviate poverty and disadvantage”.

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