Welfare Rights Network Criticises Work for the Dole
2 June 2014 at 11:11 am
The National Welfare Rights Network (NWRN) has slammed the Federal Government’s announcement on Work for the Dole saying it’s not a cost effective use of public money.
Recently Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker announced that the new Work for the Dole arrangements would apply in 18 locations across Australia – six areas in New South Wales, five in Queensland, four in Victoria, and one each in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.
He said from July 1, job seekers aged 18 to 30 years in the targeted areas who had been unemployed for 12 months or more and receiving Newstart and/or Youth Allowance (other) will be required to do Work for the Dole for about 15 hours per week for six months.
“The Australian Government believes that all Australians who are capable of working should be working — ideally for a wage but, if not, for the dole,” Hartsuyker said.
As part of the Federal Government’s 2014–15 Budget, the Government provided $14.9 million for Work for the Dole including new funding for Work for the Dole Coordinators.
However NWRN said evidence showed that work-for-the-dole schemes were not the most effective way to support people into real and sustainable jobs.
It called on the Government to consider other programs that had a greater success rate in finding employment for the most disadvantaged job seekers.
NRWN said the Work for the Dole (WFTD) scheme could be modified by: placing a greater focus on skills acquisition; giving priority to activities that offer a chance of genuine, sustainable employment; and, increasing and indexing payment supplements for participants.
“The fundamental problem with WFTD is that it is still 50 per cent less effective in assisting job seekers into real, employment when compared to other programs, like Wage Subsidies,” the network said.
“The danger is that WFTD will ‘soak up’ scarce financial resources that are needed and better spent elsewhere. It is also the case that the scheme leaves less time for people to look for ‘real’ jobs – which has been found to be a significant issue with previous WFTD programs.
“The evidence in support of Work For the Dole is mixed. An independent research study found that far from improving outcomes for people who are unemployed, it causes participants to spend longer amounts of time on welfare payments. It can work well for some people and in some regions, but as a national ‘one-size fits all’ program it is not helpful.
“At best, the evidence is that these type of schemes can give some people a sense of purpose, but other job seekers are reluctant to inform prospective employers that they have been enrolled in WFTD because of the stigma attached to the program.
“Across a range of employment measures, Work for The Dole is much less successful in getting unemployed people into real jobs. According to Governments data, 47 per cent of extremely disadvantaged job seekers in wage subsidy programs were still in work after three months, at rates much higher than that for the general employment services system.
“A far better option is paid work experience and wage subsidies. Figures from Senate Estimates reveal 47 per cent of Wage Connect participants were in paid employment at the end of the six-month program. This is more than double the results achieved under the previous work for the dole scheme, which placed just 20 per cent in ongoing work.
“From 1 July, the Government will re-start the highly successful Wage Connect Scheme which has twice been put on hold because it was been oversubscribed.
“One of the nation’s business groups, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has called for the WFTD scheme to be overhauled, arguing that that it should be built around a traineeship model. It also proposes that the scheme focus on ‘foundation’ or ‘life skills’, which could include things like presentation, team-work, organisational skills, etc.
“‘Work for the dole will be more successful if combined with structured training to provide the skills needed to stay in the workforce longer,’ stated the Chamber earlier this year.
“A better option for young people would be to continue to successful Youth Reconnections Program, which will cease from December 2014. The Government has promised Restart, a wage subsidy program for unemployed people aged over 50. These supports are much better options for getting people into ongoing employment than shifting young people and unemployed people into routine WFTD schemes.”
The 18 selected areas for the Work for the Dole scheme are:
1. Fairfield, Liverpool (NSW)
2. Nepean, Outer Western Sydney (including Blue Mountains NSW)
3. Central Coast (NSW)
4. Shoalhaven (NSW)
5. Richmond, Tweed, Clarence Valley (including Ballina and Byron Bay NSW)
6. Coffs Harbour, Macleay, Hastings (NSW)
7. Bundaberg (Qld)
8. Fraser Coast (Qld)
9. Outer North Brisbane (Qld)
10. Cairns (Qld)
11. Logan (Qld)
12. Westgate (north west Melbourne Vic)
13. Goulburn Valley (Vic)
14. Peninsula (south eastern Melbourne Vic)
15. Geelong (Vic)
16. Central and West Metro (south west Perth, WA)
17. Northern Adelaide, Gawler (SA)
18. West and North West, Launceston (Tas)