Sep 9, 2003

Government dismantles Job Network

GOVERNMENT DISMANTLES JOB NETWORK

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 9 September 2003

Just 71 days into Job Network Mark 3 and the Minister for Employment Services, Mal Brough, has today outlined the details of his $2.1 billion bailout of the system.

In an attempt to prop up the ailing Job Network by improving the cash flow of its providers, the Minister has confirmed that providers will now receive upfront quarterly payments regardless of whether services or training are actually provided to jobseekers.

On top of this, an additional 40,000 jobseekers will be fast-tracked into Customised Assistance – the level of assistance providers are paid the most to provide (at least $800 per jobseeker). Such fast-tracking of jobseekers into Customised Assistance was meant to occur only for those identified by Centrelink as being at risk of long-term unemployment.

We now have the absurd situation where jobseekers who just last week were not considered by the Government at risk of long-term unemployment suddenly today being re-assessed as such.

The Government has taken this step simply to prop up their ailing Job Network and to conceal Minister Brough’s complete mismanagement of his portfolio.

Furthermore, this decision to open up Customised Assistance will simply shove more jobseekers into a program producing dubious results.

According to the most recent data from the Department of Employment Workplace Relations only 19% of jobseekers who participated in Customised Assistance – formerly known as Intensive Assistance – found a full-time job upon completion.

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.

It must be remembered that this $2.1 billion bailout became necessary after Job Network providers warned the Government that they were on the verge of financial ruin with many threatening to close their doors and sack staff within days.

In 5 years the Job Network has been fundamentally redesigned 3 times and this latest makeover has been by far the greatest debacle.

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.

The ultimate losers out of this entire debacle have been and will continue to be the unemployed.