Nov 21, 2003

Government figures show Work-for-the-Dole condemns the unemployment to a life of

GOVERNMENT FIGURES SHOW WORK-FOR-THE-DOLE CONDEMNS THE UNEMPLOYED TO A LIFE OF INSECURITY

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 21 November 2003

Following yesterday’s revelations that the Howard Government’s Work for the Dole program keeps people unemployed for longer, new figures have emerged which raise further questions about the merits of the scheme in its current form.

According to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations less than 1 in 4 (22.5%) jobseekers successfully find a job after participating in Work for the Dole. Compares this result to the 59% success rate that was being achieved by the previous Labor Government’s JobStart program.

Not only does the current Work for the Dole program keep jobseekers on unemployment benefits longer, but it does little to equip them with the skills that would improve their chances of securing a job.

Furthermore, Minister Brough has conceded that 64.8% of those fortunate enough to obtain employment after participating in Work for the Dole were in jobs that were temporary, casual or seasonal in nature. Less than one in three (30.2%) found permanent employment. These figures were obtained through a Question on Notice (No. 2377).

These results paint a bleak picture for jobseekers. They are also bad news for taxpayers.

For the jobseeker it means they are simply going from one employment assistance program into a short-term insecure job and then back again. This sort of insecurity inevitably undermines a person’s self-esteem and future employment prospects.

By keeping people on unemployment benefits longer and not equipping them with the skills that will ensure they can move permanently from welfare into work, Work for the Dole is actually costing taxpayers more. Since 1997 almost $500 million has been spent on this program – a further $178 million will be spent in the current financial year. Taxpayers are not getting value for money from Work for the Dole.

Labor created and believes in mutual obligation. However for it to be effective, government must fulfil its obligations to the unemployed.

Minister Brough must fulfil his responsibility and respond to the research commissioned by his own department and conducted by the University of Melbourne.