Jobs Australia Defends NFP Service Provider
24 February 2015 at 10:44 am
Jobs Australia, the national peak body for more than 220 Not for Profit organisations that assist disadvantaged people to find work, has come to the defence of member organisation Jobs Services Australia after a critical ABC Four Corners report on Monday.
The ABC report claimed the Federal Government had recovered more than $41 million worth of false claims by private employment agencies in the past three years.
“The agencies are contracted by the Government under a privatised welfare-to-work program called Job Services Australia (JSA), a $1.3 billion-a-year scheme designed to get the unemployed into work,” the ABC said.
“The Four Corners investigation found that rorting of the scheme is rampant. Forgery, manipulation of records and the lodgement of inflated claims for fees are widespread.”
Jobs Australia says its members are committed to a fair and transparent system that provides the best help possible to disadvantaged job seekers in preparing for and finding employment.
CEO of Jobs Australia Limited, David Thompson, said that while there are legitimate concerns about some aspects of the policies and administrative arrangements that underpin Job Services Australia, the achievements of the system also deserve to be acknowledged.
“Job Services Australia (JSA) is a program that assists around 800,000 job seekers at any point in time. Over a quarter of job seekers find a job and exit JSA within three months,” Thompson said.
“From mid-2009 to December 2014, there have been more than 2.1 million job placements. Over half of all job placements lead to 13-week job outcomes, and over a third of placements lead to 26-week job outcomes.
“This is despite the fact that the system is incredibly complex, with a confusing payment model and thousands of pages of rules that must be interpreted and applied by the individual staff who work day in, day out, with people who are unemployed.
“A significant portion of the recoveries are volunteered by providers who need to rectify minor administrative mistakes.
“Moreover, while there have been incorrect claims for payment in the past, we believe administrative changes introduced since 2011 substantially address most of the examples of poor practice highlighted by Four Corners.”
Jobs Australia said that in 2011-2012, the Department conducted a rigorous review and audit of claims and significantly tightened its approach to risk management. Changes since that time have included:
Simplifying and clarifying the payment model to remove payments that were frequently being claimed incorrectly;
Increasing departmental audits of files held and claims made by providers; and
New quality accreditation requirements that mean providers must have their internal risk management procedures independently certified.
The current arrangements were given the tick of approval by the Australian National Audit Office in a review it completed in July last year, the peak body said.
“A new employment services contract will begin on 1 July 2015 and the new model further reduces the scope for incorrect claims by simplifying payments even further. The new model puts a greater emphasis on placing people into jobs by attaching a greater portion of providers’ funding to employment outcomes and a reduced requirement for accounting for micro-service transactions,” Thompson said.
“With rising unemployment, Jobs Australia believes there needs to be a more flexible arrangement that is firmly focused on getting people back into work – but also with strong checks and balances.
“It is appropriate that any provider found doing the wrong thing – particularly anything that might amount to fraud – suffer the full consequences of their conduct and we encourage anyone with information about incorrect claiming of payments to report the matter to the Australian Government Services Fraud Tip-off Line on 1300 874 536 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.”