“It’s not hard to work out. Make the system about helping people get work instead of about punishing people.” – Susan, unemployed worker, Melbourne, VIC. July 2018.
The purpose of this report is to critically examine the current mainstream employment services system, jobactive, and assess the experience of unemployed workers with the system against its stated objectives and promised services. A key aim of the research is to bring the voices of unemployed workers in Australia into the public conversation about employment services and about unemployment more broadly.
The report is published at a time when the Department of Jobs and Small Business is undertaking a review of the Future of Employment Services, under the guidance of an expert advisory panel chaired by Sandra McPhee AM, and during an Inquiry into “the appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of jobactive” by the Senate Education and Employment References Committee.
As 2018 marks two decades since Australia introduced the world’s first fully privatised employment services system, such reviews are particularly appropriate, and it is hoped that the findings of this report will inform the considerations of policy makers in their assessment of the operation of the system.
There are over 650,000 people engaged with jobactive at any point in time and the majority of these receive Newstart or Youth Allowance. The services funded by the federal government to help them in their search for work cost $1.3 billion per year, making it the second largest area of government procurement outside the defence portfolio
The stated goal of these services is to “get more Australians into work. jobactive promises to “work closely with job seekers, tailoring their services to the job seeker’s assessed needs so they can nd and keep a job”. It claims to provide the following services:
- Help to look for work, write a resume and prepare for interviews;
- Referrals to jobs in the local area and help to relocate for work if they are interested;
- Help to become job ready, including targeted training that is suited to the skills that local employers need;
- Individualised support (called case management) so they are ready to take up and keep a job; and
- Support to complete Work for the Dole, or other eligible activities, that provide work- like experiences, help to learn new skills and improve the job seeker’s chances to find a job
SOURCE: Bennett, Owen; Dawson, Emma, Lewis, Abigail; O’Halloran, David and Smith, Warwick. “Working It Out: Employment services in Australia.” Per Capita, 19 September, 2018.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia