Apr 5, 2004

Sex quiz highlights need for urgent action

SEX QUIZ HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR URGENT ACTION

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 5 April 2004

A questionnaire distributed by a Job Network provider in Queensland forcing jobseekers to reveal sensitive personal information about their sexual and gambling practices highlights the need for greater government monitoring and regulation of the material being produced by taxpayer funded employment agencies.

Job Search Training is a compulsory 3 week course meant to improve the ability of jobseekers to find and secure a job. It’s compulsory for jobseekers unemployed for more than 3 months.

The questionnaire, entitled Can You Take a Risk?, asked female jobseekers whether they “had risked an unwanted pregnancy?” Male jobseekers were asked if they “had ever risked getting a woman pregnant?”

The questionnaire also asked jobseekers about their gambling habits and whether they had ever stopped themselves becoming involved with someone in case of rejection.

I find it hard to fathom how an exercise involving such personal questions, particularly about an individual’s sexual practices, improves the ability of jobseekers to secure employment.

When a female jobseeker complained about the questionnaire saying that she felt both “degraded and insulted” and queried how it had anything to do with reaching her employment goals, she was threatened with the loss of her unemployment benefits if she did not complete it.

This is not the first time jobseekers have been exposed to inappropriate material whilst undertaking Job Search Training. Last year a different provider subjected jobseekers to material that promoted blatant discriminatory stereotypes.

Unfortunately Employment Services Minister, Mal Brough, has refused to take action to ensure no other jobseekers are subjected to such inappropriate training material. At the moment inappropriate material is only exposed when a jobseeker is brave enough to complain.

This is simply not good enough. As Job Search Training is compulsory and a failure to participate would mean the loss of their only source of income, jobseekers often feel powerless.

Given that over the next 3 years the Government will be paying Job Network providers $276 million to deliver Job Search Training to jobseekers, it is incumbent on the Government to ensure that taxpayers are getting value for money and jobseekers are receiving quality employment focused assistance.

By failing to scrutinize the material being produced and used by Job Network providers the Government is shirking its responsibility to the taxpayer and the unemployed.

All training material produced and used by Job Network providers should be reviewed and approved by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relation.