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Job providers raise concerns ahead of Govt sh -

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Job providers raise concerns ahead of Govt shake-out

The World Today - Thursday, 26 March , 2009 12:42:00

Reporter: Meredith Griffiths

ELEANOR HALL: Youth employment groups have raised more concerns about the Federal Government's
overhaul of the job network system. The results of the tender won't be announced until next week
but the Greens say it appears that some well known job providers in Australia have been passed over
in favour of overseas firms.

And now some groups that specialise in youth unemployment are warning that the system will overlook
the specific needs of young people.

Meredith Griffiths reports.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Australia's youth unemployment rate has hit its highest point in eight years.

Many of the young people now struggling to find full-time jobs are turning to organisations like
the WAYS (Waverley Action for Youth Services) Youth Service in Sydney. WAYS is now helping around
700 young people find work, but that will end in July.

Karen McLaughlan is the organisation's business manager

KAREN MCLAUGHLAN: A significant portion of the organisation will in fact close down, the employment
services plus a number of other services, because we have used the surpluses that we've made
through the job network contract and particularly to help resource other underfunded federal and
state government programs.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: More than half of WAYS's funding comes from its contract to be one of the
Federal Government's accredited job providers.

But while she has not been officially notified, Karen McLaughlan says she's certain that WAYS will
no longer receive federal funding once the Government's overhaul of employment services is
completed.

KAREN MCLAUGHLAN: It would be easy for us to be seen as just having sour grapes about this but the
point is that to deliver services to marginalised people it requires an integrated service delivery
model which is what we offer. And it's taken us years to build that because we have strong
relationships with community partners, with employers, individuals in the community.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: She says it's young people who will miss out.

KAREN MCLAUGHLAN: If there's no specialist provider say in our area of Eastern Sydney that means
that all of the young people that we currently assist will go into a service that is a generalist
employment service.

Now we know that there are particular things that need to happen to help young people engage in
services. They need consistency, they need predictability. They need people who understand their
needs and have access to a range of resources that can help them. And we don't believe that a
generalist employment service can do that.

Within our organisation itself we have a counselling service, we have a GP clinic, we have a sexual
health clinic - all the kind of difficulties that young people need assistance to overcome so that
they can in fact enter into employment, training and education, well sustainable types of options
for them.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Karen McLaughlan says WAYS is not the only youth service to miss out, but that
the others are too afraid to speak out for fear of jeopardising future funding.

The peak body representing employment agencies says it has heard that many important organisations
who work with young people have overlooked. George Giuliani is the deputy chief executive of Jobs
Australia.

GEORGE GIULIANI: Many of these providers have spent many, many years developing a very
sophisticated service delivery. They know what young people need and they have packaged up a whole
range of things to help them.

And so when they lose those contracts that are so integral to their work, they wonder how will a
new provider build all the things that we have built in many, many years? How will they just come
in and deliver that without the links to community?

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The Federal Government says the new system has been designed so services are
tailor-made to an unemployed persons' needs, but has not responded to The World Today's questions
about the specific impact on young people.

George Giuliani from Jobs Australia can't say 'til after the tenders are announced next week
whether or not young people will be disadvantaged.

GEORGE GIULIANI: When those results are announced there will be some very, very detailed scrutiny
of the successful tenderers to see how is it that this person or this, sorry, how is it that this
organisation is going to do a better job than the one that we've lost?

ELEANOR HALL: That's George Giuliani from Jobs Australia, ending that report by Meredith Griffiths.