New Job Search Penalties Harsh – ACOSS
Thursday, 12th August 2010 at 2:35 pm
Peak welfare body, ACOSS has welcomed the ALP’s policy announcement of workforce relocation incentives, but is concerned that new penalty measures for jobseekers will cause hardship and disadvantage.
Prime Minister Gillard has announced tougher rules for jobseekers currently receiving welfare payments including a new penalty for non-attendance at employment services appointments.
The policy says that if a first time a jobseeker fails to attend a Job Services Australia interview, Centrelink will put a temporary stop to a person’s income support payments. Payment will only re-commence once a jobseeker contacts Centrelink and confirms they will attend their rescheduled appointment. On first failure, full back pay will be provided.
On the second failure, payments will be immediately stopped and there will be no back pay. Payments will immediately restart from the time of re-engagement.
The government says these tougher new rules will improve on the current situation in which jobseekers are only advised that failure to comply with a requirement could impose future penalties. The new rules will apply from 1 July 2011.
Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service says more than 300,000 Australians have been on unemployment payments for over 12 months, for reasons such as low skills, few local jobs, age discrimination and disability.
Dr Goldie says suspending someone's payment until they comply with benefit requirements is tough enough and not restoring the payment even when they do so is too harsh.
She says the goal should be to keep unemployed people engaged with the system, not to punish them afterwards.
ACOSS says under the current system most unemployed people must:
- Look for up to 10 jobs a fortnight
- Report fortnightly to Centrelink
- Meet regularly with their employment service provider
- Stick with their agreed activities (eg training, job search)
- Accept job offers including unskilled jobs -otherwise they risk losing the allowance for up to 8 weeks.
- Young people on the Youth Allowance must either be employed or enrolled in training to improve their qualifications ('earn or learn').