Dec 10, 2003

Work for the dole keeps jobseekers in regional South Australia unemployed longer


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 10 December 2003

In Regional South Australia only 1 in 10 (9.8%) jobseekers who participated in Work for the Dole were in full employment 3 months after completing the program. A further 8.6% secured part-time employment.

A massive 43.1% of jobseekers remained unemployed after participating in Work for the Dole, and a further 7.8% of jobseekers became so disillusioned by their experiences in the program they simply gave up looking for a job and left the labour market. Labor obtained this information through the Estimates process.

These results are for a program the Howard Government considers one of its “major success stories”.

The current Work for the Dole program is failing to equip jobseekers with the skills that would improve their chances of securing a job.

What’s more, a suppressed Government report concluded that Work for the Dole keeps jobseekers on unemployment benefits longer. The report, obtained by The Australian newspaper under Freedom of Information, concluded:

“…there appear to be quite large significant adverse effects of participation in [Work for the Dole].”

The research found that Work for the Dole stigmatised jobseekers, reduced the time they had to find a real job and provides little in the way of genuine assistance, namely training.

This research paints a bleak picture for jobseekers. It is also bad news for taxpayers.

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 2003/04.

Taxpayers are not getting value for money from the Howard Government’s Work for the Dole program.

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

• In the year to March 2003, 1,153 jobseekers in Regional South Australia participated in Work for the Dole.

Communities in this region include: Berri, Coober Pedy, Gawler, Kadina, Mount Barker, Mount Gambier and Murray Bridge.