Aug 6, 2004

Labor will give Job Network providers greater security and certainty

LABOR WILL GIVE JOB NETWORK PROVIDERS GREATER SECURITY AND CERTAINTY

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 6 August 2004

Today I announce a key component of Labor’s policy to strengthen the capacity of the Job Network to tackle entrenched joblessness in the Australian community.

Addressing the annual conference of the National Employment Services Association (NESA), I informed delegates that under a Latham Labor Government Job Network providers will be contracted on 5 year renewable contracts subject to ongoing performance assessments. Currently providers are subjected to expensive, complex and highly disruptive tendering processes every 3 years.

Labor’s much longer contractual period will allow providers a greater opportunity to accumulate local labour market knowledge, build relationships with employers, invest in staff development and achieve best practice.

This commitment highlights Labor determination to build on the Job Network’s strengths while using the experiences of the last 6 years to address its deficiencies.

The current Job Network model is not adequately addressing the complex needs of disadvantaged jobseekers and long term welfare recipients. At a time when the headline unemployment rate has been in decline, the magnitude of joblessness in the Australian community has been on the increase:

• Over 678,000 children, or 17.4% of all dependent children, are living without an employed parent – an increase of 8% since the Howard Government was first elected in 1996;

• Between 1999 and 2004 the number of jobseekers on unemployment benefits for more than five years has jumped by a staggering 68% to 126,650;

• 1.1 million Australians of working age are outside the labour market and dependent on welfare benefits;

• More than 1 in 4 Australians who move off unemployment benefits return to claiming it within just 6 months.

I also gave an ironclad guarantee that Labor will institute a genuine partnership with the non-government sector to deliver an employment service system that:

1. Provides greater flexibility to providers and less central prescription;

2. Ensures all jobseekers are treated as individuals and receive the timely customised support they need;

3. Relies on rigorous and independent evaluations to establish “what works” and to guide future enhancements and

4. Facilitates the sharing of best practice and innovative solutions while preserving competition.

Under a Latham Labor Government the employment services industry will be a partner in the reform process, not a victim of it.

Today’s announcement complements Labor’s Youth Guarantee and Greater Security, More Opportunities for mature age Australians.