Close Search
News  |  Social Affairs

Welfare Changes Causing Anxiety for Jobseekers

1 October 2018 at 3:23 pm
Luke Michael
Misinformation and confusion about changes to participation requirements for welfare recipients is causing anxiety and concern for jobseekers.

Luke Michael | 1 October 2018 at 3:23 pm


Welfare Changes Causing Anxiety for Jobseekers
1 October 2018 at 3:23 pm

Misinformation and confusion about changes to participation requirements for welfare recipients is causing anxiety and concern for jobseekers.

The federal government recently increased the amount of time older jobseekers must spend on activities such as work-for-the-dole, paid or voluntary work, and training.

But Volunteering Australia acting CEO Lavanya Kala told Pro Bono News communication to jobseekers and service providers on the changes had been poor.

“The volunteering sector has received many enquiries from confused people who have received contradictory information, unsure where to seek the correct information and who are worried about their payments being affected,” Kala said.

“[Even though] there has been months to prepare and communicate to the public about what the changes are, how they will be introduced and who will be affected.”

As of September 20, job seekers aged 55 to 59 who previously had to do 30 hours per fortnight of voluntary work, must now do at least half of these hours as paid work.

Those aged 30 to 49 will need to work for 50 hours a fortnight rather than 30. And those over 60 will for the first time have to work 10 hours per fortnight.

Kala said jobseekers were cutting back their volunteer hours in fear of not meeting their obligations and losing income support.

“Service providers engaged with employment services state there is a lack of clarity on the changes and varying information coming from Centrelink,” Kala said.

“This is not only having an impact on jobseekers who find engaging in volunteering deeply beneficial, but organisations reliant on the generous contributions of volunteers.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Jobs and Small Business, which maintains the policy, told Pro Bono News the department has put in a number of measures to help jobseekers understand the changes.

This includes sending SMS messages to those potentially affected, providing staff at its national customer service line with information on how the changes could apply to jobseekers, and publishing the changes in advance online.

“The [department] is constantly monitoring and, if necessary, reviewing information on its and other Australian government websites to ensure that information provided to people looking for work is as accurate and up-to-date as possible,” the spokesperson said.

Kala said while Volunteering Australia appreciated attempts were now being made to update information and redirect enquiries, more could be done.  

“We would like to see communications circulated nationally to inform both the public and service providers about the changes,” she said.

“Our goal is that jobseekers, service providers and volunteer involving organisations are not adversely affected by the changes.”   

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

PB Careers
Get your biweekly dose of news, opinion and analysis to keep you up to date with what’s happening and why it matters for you, sent every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers? Get in touch at or download our contributor guidelines.



Get more stories like this


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Addressing economic insecurity is key to preventing family violence

Stella Avramopoulos

Monday, 21st September 2020 at 5:59 pm

COVID-19 leaves community sector ‘approaching crisis point’

Luke Michael

Friday, 18th September 2020 at 10:10 am

Fight against NDIS independent assessments ramps up

Maggie Coggan

Tuesday, 15th September 2020 at 8:21 am

pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

We need your help.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Pro Bono Australia has seen a devastating fall in advertising and less people posting on our job board, which is how we fund our free news service. You can show us that you value the work we do by making a contribution.

 Make a contribution 

You have Successfully Subscribed!