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Job Network complaints double in three years.

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Senator John Cherry Australian Democrats Employment Spokesperson

June 27th, 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/339

Job Network complaints double in three years Complaints about Job Network providers have doubled in two years, bringing into question the effectiveness of the Government’s Code of Conduct for the Job Network, according to the Australian Democrats.

Democrats’ Employment spokesperson Senator John Cherry told the Senate today that Department officials had revealed that the number of complaints lodged against Job Network providers is now over 10,000 a year, up from 4,772 three years ago.

“Does the Minister concede that the doubling of complaints places greater emphasis on the need to beef up the Code of Conduct and the proposed Service Guarantee to ensure that Job Network providers are more accountable to their clients for the services they provide?” Senator Cherry asked in Question Time today.

“If complaints have doubled in two years, to paraphrase Shakespeare, ‘something’s rotten in the State’ of Job Network.

“Departmental officials told the Senate Estimates Committee that they have no log of complaints made directly to Job Network providers as opposed to the Department, so complaints are obviously much higher than 10,000 a year.

“The Democrats are concerned that when Stage 3 of Job Network locks the unemployed into a single Job Network provider with limited rights to move, that the level of complaints will rise further.

“The Government needs to ensure that the Code of Conduct and the Service Guarantee are as tough as we can make them so that captive clients are not clobbered and complaining,” he said.

In response, Communications Minister Senator Richard Alston, said the Government was doing its best to address complaints, pointing to a 1999 survey showing 81% of clients were “satisfied” with Job Network services.

Senator Cherry said the flipside of that was that one in five clients in 1999 were dissatisfied, and that since then the number of complaints lodged had doubled.

“Job Network Three, to take effect next year, will not work unless the Government acknowledges the level of client dissatisfaction, and acts to see that the Service Guarantee and Code of Conduct ensure that mutual obligations truly flow both ways,” Senator Cherry concluded.