Sep 4, 2003

Ailing job network failing jobseekers in Cental and Northern Queensland


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 4 September 2003

Only 1 in 5 (19.5%) long-term unemployed in Central and Northern Queensland found full-time work after participating in Intensive Assistance – the highest level of help available under the Howard Government’s ailing Job Network.

By contrast a massive 39.6% of the long-term unemployed remained unemployed after participating in Intensive Assistance and a further 11.1% become so disillusioned by their experiences they simply gave up looking for a job and left the labour market.

Labor obtained this information during the Budget Estimates process. In the year to March 2003, 13,832 long-term unemployed people in Central and Northern Queensland participated in Intensive Assistance.

These figures are an indictment on the job creation efforts of the Howard Government. The Job Network is failing to improve the employment prospects of local jobseekers, particularly those who have been out of work for some time.

These poor Job Network results come at a time when Central and Northern Queensland is still enduring one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. The current unemployment rate for the region is 8.2% – well above the national rate of 6.2%.

Furthermore, from 1 July this year the level of service to local jobseekers was substantially reduced when the Government slashed the number of Job Network sites in Central and Northern Queensland by an extraordinary 42%. That translated into the loss of 38 offices and hundreds of jobs across the region.

The deficiency in the Job Network is obvious: jobseekers are simply not getting the assistance they really need. Only 5% of jobseekers got any form of work experience, and only 14% received vocational training.

Instead of making much needed changes to the Job Network to ensure that unemployed people can access decent training and genuine work experience, the Government has recently promised to give Job Network providers $670 million a year for the next three years regardless of their performance or success in helping the unemployed into work.

The $2.1 billion the Government is now throwing at the Job Network may go some of the way to addressing the financial problems being experienced by providers, but without significant structural reforms the system will continue to fail those it is meant to serve – the unemployed.

Communities in this region include: Ayr, Cairns, Mackay, Gladstone, Innisfail, Rockhampton, Mt Isa, Longreach and Townsville.