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NFPs to Shoulder Work For The Dole

27 January 2014 at 11:26 am
Lina Caneva
Not for Profit aged care homes and other charities will be expected to offer unpaid work to Australia’s unemployed as part of the Federal Coalition Government’s new, expanded Work-for-the-Dole plans.

Lina Caneva | 27 January 2014 at 11:26 am


NFPs to Shoulder Work For The Dole
27 January 2014 at 11:26 am

Not for Profit aged care homes and other charities will be expected to offer unpaid work to Australia’s unemployed as part of the Federal Coalition Government’s new, expanded Work-for-the-Dole plans.

Report says the Abbott Government plans to again make Work-for-the-Dole compulsory and those who turn down a job close to home will lose their unemployment payments.

As well local councils will be encouraged to recruit volunteers from Australia's 805,000 unemployed to help with community endeavours, including graffiti removal, rubbish collection and park maintenance.

The plan is said to be limited to three-month stints, to prevent employers replacing their permanent workforce with unemployed volunteers.

The updated plan returns to the mandatory Work-for-the-Dole scheme that was was introduced under the Howard government in the 1990s but overturned by the Labor Government.

Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker is reported as saying the Abbott Government will revive and expand the original scheme.

Assistant Minister for Social Services,Fifield has confirmed changes to the Work-for-the-Dole Scheme but would not provide further details.

“I have every confidence that Work-for-the-Dole – giving people that experience, giving them that meaning and purpose in contributing to the community at a time when they’re receiving a payment from the community – is an unqualifiedly good thing,” he said.

“The Coalition, since the Howard Government, has been committed to the concept of work for the dole, but more broadly committed to the concept of reciprocal obligation. And that is, if the community is supporting you in a time of need, it’s not unreasonable to expect that you put something back into the community.

“So that’s been a long-standing principle of the Coalition. And we’ve made no secret of the fact that if we were successful in gaining government, that we would want to revitalise the work for the dole program.”

However, the Not for Profit sector is yet to see the details of the scheme.

National Welfare Rights Network President Maree O'Halloran said the Federal Government should focus spending on wage subsidies for employers to hire the long-term jobless.

"Our experience is that Work-for-the-Dole costs a lot of money and at the end of the program a person usually doesn't get a job,'' O'Halloran said.

"Across a range of employment measures, Work-for-the Dole is much less successful in getting unemployed people into real jobs.

"Post Program Monitoring  Surveys from the Department of Employment reveals far better outcomes for job seekers who had participated in wage subsidy schemes. “Forty-seven percent of job seekers in wage subsidy programs were still in work after three months, at rates a full 20 percentage points higher than that provided through the general employment services system.

“ Jobseekers who undertook vocational training had a 32% chance of being employed after 3 months, compared to just 22% under 'work for the dole' schemes.

“Work-for-the-Dole is highly resource intensive, so scarce funds to support people into work should be spent on what is the most effective.

“While some people benefit from the routine of WFTD schemes, research indicates that many job seekers find engaging in the scheme stigmatises them.

“Unemployed people are often very reluctant to disclose participation in this scheme to prospective employers," O'Halloran said.

The plan provides some complicating factors for the Not for Profit sector including the need for police checks and working with children requirements for both volunteers and employees.
The national aged care peak body, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) says it is yet to advised about the plan.

“While we appreciate the possible opportunities for assistance through these volunteers we must ensure that proper standards are maintained,” ACSA Spokesperson Heather Witham said.

“ You have to remember that nursing homes are more than just facilities, they are the homes of our aged community and we have to have the proper police checks and training in place to maintain them.”

ACSA is a national body of more than 1400 churches, Not for Profit charitable organisations and community providers of aged and community services.

The Coalition Government is expected to hold talks with Not for Profit leaders in the near future.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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