Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mercy Ministries admits to taking people's Centrelink payments, and more

Mercy Ministries media response

Looks like they're going for the angry denial for the most part - we're Christian, we don't hide anything from anyone, the media is unfairly attacking us, blah blah blah - with one exception. And what an exception it is:
We work closely with Centrelink and where a young woman is eligible for Centrelink benefits, this amount goes a small way towards providing 24 hour care, 7 days a week.

Okay. Boy. Is this "working closely with Centrelink" statement implying that Centrelink knows what's going on and doesn't disapprove?

And once again, Mercy Ministries' own website provides many interesting details. From their Frequently Asked Questions:
6. How much does the program cost?
Mercy Ministries program is provided at no cost to the young women.

For young women who are eligible for a Centrelink payment (eg. Youth Allowance, Newstart, Pension) we ask that they contribute their payment to Mercy Ministries for the duration of their time in the program. From this payment the young women receive an allowance for weekly shopping for incidentals.

Upon entry into the program a deposit of $200 is required from all young women (whether eligible for Centrelink payment or not), to cover the cost of any impending medical expenses.

It will then be necessary to replenish the deposit to take it back to a balance of $200 for any further medical treatment that may be required.

For young women who are not eligible for Centrelink support, Mercy Ministries does require them to have a sponsor to support weekly shopping for incidentals and medical expenses.

As Mercy Ministries is not a medical facility we work with the young women alongside medical professionals who support Mercy Ministries to access excellent and affordable medical care.

Any remaining part of this deposit will be refunded to the resident on departure from the program.

This "free" "psychological program" requires that the residents pay for all their medical costs. The required $200 deposit is also an interesting pyschological hold that Mercy Ministries' angry denials about "voluntary participation" neglects to mention.

Also? People not on Centrelink payments are required to have a sponsor to cover their "incidental and medical expenses"? Why? And perhaps more importantly, who?

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