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WACOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Smart Not Tough Approach Needed for Jobseekers

April 20, 2012

MEDIA RELEASE
Friday 20 April 2012


Smart Not Tough Approach Needed for Jobseekers


“It is time we took a smarter approach to tackling unemployment, underemployment and the problems created by short-term, casual and insecure work,” said Irina Cattalini, CEO of WACOSS today.

“The Council is concerned that significant resources are being wasted on a punitive compliance approach to unemployed job seekers that focuses on ‘participation requirements’ with no evidence that this has any impact on improving employment outcomes.”

“At the same time there is significant concern across the community, including conservative economists and industry bodies, that the inadequacy of income support payments of only $35/day creates significant barriers to the efforts of unemployed people to find work and present as job ready,” she said.

The new compliance approach to participation was introduced by the Federal Government in July last year, imposing payment suspensions and penalties for jobseekers that failed participation requirements. Figures released by DEEWR today show that in WA, there were over 23,000 payment suspensions in the first six months of applying the policy.

The Federal Government will be increasing the compliance penalties on 1st July from $34 to $48 per day for those on Newstart Allowance. These penalties create significant difficulties for those already living in poverty on only $243 a week.

“People can miss appointments for all sorts of legitimate reasons, such as being unable to afford to travel that day, not having credit to make the call, being sick and unable to afford treatment,” said Ms Cattalini.

“It is clear that this ‘tough’ approach to compliance impacts disproportionately on those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. For example Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander job seekers are penalised at close to twice the rate.”

“With 500 staff now employed by Centrelink in their National Participation Solutions team, we have to question whether these resources would be better spent helping people find jobs or providing meaningful training.”

“The crucial measure of the services government provides to assist the unemployed is how effective they are in supporting people to overcome the barriers to finding work, not increases in the rates of breaches and penalties,” Ms Cattalini concluded.

Media Contact

Irina Cattalini, CEO
0422 422 438 or 9420 7222
MEDIA RELEASE

Further Information:
To date the Department of Employment Education and Workplace relations has not published any figures on the reasons why people have missed meetings with employment service providers or work for the dole programs. The data that DEEWR publishes does not tell us how many people have had payments reduced, how many of those have had ‘vulnerability indicators’ (such as mental illness, homelessness, disability, recent trauma or domestic violence).

The only detailed publicly available data on reasons given for non-attendance (from the Active Participation Agenda evaluation) indicated that 38% of those not attending Job Network interviews had either found a job or stated they were not notified of the interview.

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