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Job Network changes a 'half-measure only'

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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja

Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats

Employment Spokesperson


16 December 1998



Job Network changes a ‘half-measure only’


The Government’s changes to Job Network announced today only address half the problems in the failing Job Network, and are no replacement for a fully comprehensive and inclusive review, said the Australian Democrats’ Employment Spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.


“The changes announced in August were a band-aid solution, these are at least bandages for the ailing Job Network, but there’s still much which needs to be done,” said Senator Stott Despoja.


“These changes are a half-measure only - all about preventing the collapse of the system by keeping job agencies open. There are no extra funds to increase the spread of services or make life easier for job seekers.


“In fact, unemployed people will be worse off under the changes because the Government will now force them to register, penalising those who have been searching for work on their own initiative but refusing to restore fare assistance to help with travel costs and job search costs.


“There are a number of important changes missing from today’s announcement.  The Government must incorporate an independent regulatory and monitoring body, similar to the Employment Services Regulatory Authority, to ensure that appropriate standards and spread of services are maintained.


“The Job Seeker Classification Instrument (JSCI) must also be changed.  The Government has used age-based comparisons to justify retention of current JSCI weightings.  However, these do not take into account homeless people, who span age groupings and have been found by Hanover Welfare Services and the Melbourne City Mission to be particularly disadvantaged under the JSCI.


“Early school leavers are another group reported by welfare groups as being disadvantaged by the JSCI and who would not necessarily be picked up by the under-20 age grouping.


“It is also extremely disappointing that the Government has not only refused to review its decision to cut 5000 Centrelink jobs, but has decided to address the referral problem by increasing the caseloads of Centrelink workers.


“The Government’s failure to order a full-scale review means that problems with the system will continue. The effect of the competitive model on high-unemployment areas and long-term unemployed, confusion among job seekers now faced with heavy penalties and the vacuum of performance data leading into the second tender round all need to be addressed.


“The Government has shown that it is willing to listen to the concerns of job agencies and act upon them. This attitude should extend to listening to the concerns of job seekers and ensuring that access to job search assistance is restored to an adequate level,” concluded Senator Stott Despoja.


For comment, contact Senator Stott Despoja on (08) 8232 7595 or 0418 812 589