Out-of-work Australians “suffer” under the Coalition’s $7.3b employment services program, according to a Senate report that has led welfare groups to accuse the government of imposing a “nightmare” on the unemployed. Source: The Guardian.
Following the release of a scathing Senate inquiry report into Jobactive, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) lashed the program as “harsh and unreasonable”.
The Jobactive program has been earmarked for review by the government, with the contract with providers set to expire in 2020.
The inquiry report, released late last week, called for an overhaul of the program, which was resulting in people gaining employment “in spite of Jobactive, not because of it”.
“Jobactive is not welfare to work, it is welfare to nowhere,” the report said. “The government’s punitive and paternalistic approach to employment services has failed.”
The Labor-chaired committee argued for a review into the rate of Newstart and criticised the Jobactive program as “punitive” and in some cases “grossly unfair”.
“Participants are missing paid employment to attend appointments with their Jobactive provider,” the report said.
“The requirement to apply for 20 jobs every month burdens employers who are receiving masses of poor quality applications, often from people who are not suited for the position.”
Among the flaws with the program was that jobseekers did not receive the “basic job-readiness services” they were meant to, while consultants had an average caseload of 150 participants. Providers were also “rewarded financially for churning people through jobs that don’t last”.
ACOSS chief Cassandra Goldie said the government needed to spend at least $500m in this year’s budget for employment services even to reach “at least half the OECD average level”.
“Many parents and carers returning to paid work need career advice, help with childcare, and training to refresh their skills,” Ms Goldie said.
“As the Senate inquiry report shows, most receive none of these things. Instead, people now face a harsh bureaucratic nightmare that often does not help them get work, threatens to suspend their social security payments, and floods employers with unsuitable applications.”
In a dissenting report, Coalition senators said while the Jobactive program was “far from perfect” it had “performed well and at a lower cost” than previous programs.