Aug 14, 2003

From a shamble to a disgrace


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 14 August 2003

Today in Parliament more serious questions about the quality of the assistance being provider to jobseekers by the Government’s Job Network were raised.

During Question Time it was revealed that the Job Network provider located in Brisbane has been distributed material that appears to promote discriminatory stereotypes. Specifically, the material presents jobseekers with 4 male caricatures – person (a): a white man in a suit and tie; person (b): a white man in a coat and open neck shirt; person (c): a man of considerably darker complexion in t-shirt and thongs; person (d): a man of similarly dark complexion looking angry with straggly long hair, beard, baggy old t-shirt and sandals – and then asks them to nominate which one, for example, would be likely to use illegal drugs or would be likely to vote labour?

This material was part of a ‘First Impression Exercise’ and distributed to jobseekers undertaking Job Search Training – a 15 day program which assists jobseekers develop their job search skills such as writing resumes and preparing for interviews.

This exercise promotes stereotypes and asks completely inappropriate political questions. I find it hard to fathom how such an exercise involving such questions are intended to improve the ability of jobseekers to secure employment.

This latest revelation highlights the complete lack of quality control over the now wholly privatised system of employment services. It also comes on top of a growing body of evidence that the Job Network is in a growing state of disarray.

Since the commencement of Job Network Mark 3 just 5 weeks ago, we have witnessed a frenzy of activity from the convening of numerous crisis meetings, the establishment of Interdepartmental committees, the re-engineering of the much vaunted Work for the Dole program, thousands of phone calls to jobseekers and of course, the distribution of $30 million in emergency funding to providers.

All this activity has simply been about making sure providers are able to keep their doors open and their staff employed, rather than improving services for jobseekers.

Jobseekers are being further let down by the Government’s whiz-bang Australian JobSearch database – the system that is supposed to match jobseekers with job vacancy information. However, this is the same system that matched a 56-year-old woman suffering from severe arthritis, high blood pressure and shortness of breath with a job in the Army Reserve as a Combat Medic.

It is also the same system that allowed an escort agency and a company wanting to launder money in Australia to advertise for workers.

This latest episode is just a disgrace.

In light of these ongoing problems it is little wonder that there is a growing level of frustration and disillusionment amongst many jobseekers towards the Job Network.