Community sector, unions urge employment services overhaul


Media release | Friday, 26 April 2024

An alliance of community sector organisations and trade unions has written to Employment Minister Tony Burke warning the employment services system is broken and inflicting serious harm.

The ACOSS letter – signed by 23 organisations including First Nations services, unions, mental health and domestic violence services, faith-based services and Councils of Social Service – urges the federal government to commit to wholesale reform of employment services in next month’s budget.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said:

“The employment services model is broken, inflicting serious harm and failing comprehensively to meet its stated aim of reducing long-term unemployment.

”There are over 500,000 people on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance payments for more than a year and they’re not getting the help they need to find the right job. Many should be on alternative payments like Disability Support Pension.

“Each month, about 80,000 people are sent Robodebt-like notices threatening to take away their income support, for allegedly missing an appointment with a provider or failing to submit enough job applications. In most cases, they have actually met the requirement or have a good reason for not doing so.

“Last year’s parliamentary inquiry into employment services recommended changes that, if implemented, would transform the system for the better. ACOSS is urging the government to now use next month’s Federal budget to commit to wholesale reform of Workforce Australia.

“This includes stopping automatic payment suspensions and redesigning the system based on feedback from those directly affected by it.

“Threatening to cut off someone’s income support, damaging their mental health and putting them at risk of homelessness does not help people find employment. Right now, the system actively works to keep people in poverty.

“This is unfair and illogical. The government must take this opportunity to fix employment services for good.”

/Public Release.