ACOSS released today the report of a new survey of 311 people who participated in jobactive employment services around the country. The online survey was conducted to inform policy on the replacement program for jobactive, which ends in July 2020.
‘’It is absolutely vital that policy makers put people at the centre of policy design. We must listen to experiences of people using jobactive services and design an employment services system that responds to the needs they identify,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
‘’Responses to our survey poured in, with 311 replies from jobactive users in two weeks. Their message was loud and clear: jobactive is leading to anxiety rather than jobs. Over and over people told us that jobactive operated as a benefit compliance system rather than an employment service.
“Fundamental change is needed in employment services. Tinkering at the edges is not enough. Employment services must focus more on help and less on compliance, and governments must lift their investment in them. We are falling behind international standards, with our investment in employment services being well below half the average level in OECD countries.”
The survey informed ACOSS’s proposals for reform of a flawed employment services system, including:
- A government commitment to full employment, with unemployment well below the RBA ‘’target’’ of 5%.
- Less stringent, more flexible activity requirements, including a reduction in the requirement to search for 20 jobs in regions with few jobs available, and abolition of Work for the Dole.
- Centrelink, not employment service providers, should decide on ‘’demerit points’’ and payment penalties regarding activity requirements.
- A rigorous set of service quality standards (including staff qualifications), with an independent statutory body to monitor them and hear complaints (as in the NDIS).
- An online self-help service in lieu of compulsory interviews for people able to find jobs without assistance, backed up by new employment advisors at Centrelink.
- More investment by government and employment service providers in help that works for people unemployed long-term, including wage subsidies and training.
- People should be able to make an informed choice of employment services provider and have a say over the timing of appointments and the contents of their Employment Plan.
- More funding certainty for providers when they are effective in finding people jobs; to reduce the high turnover of providers and staff, and enable them to make long-term plans to work with local services and employers to help people with major barriers to employment.