ACOSS Welcomes Employment Services Reforms and Calls for More Investment in Long Term Unemployed

ACOSS welcomes the release by the Minister for Employment participation, Brendan O’Connor of the Government’s Exposure Draft of the purchasing arrangements for employment services.

“ACOSS welcomes the change from an inflexible system of employment services with a heavy emphasis on penalising unemployed people, to a new system of employment service funding that is more responsive to individual needs”, Acting CEO Gregor Macfie said today.

Most of those who remain unemployed in the present boom conditions have serious barriers to employment. Flexible employment services and training are crucial to improve the job prospects of people who are disadvantaged in the labour market.

“ACOSS supports the introduction of a new stream of employment services for people with social and health barriers to work and urges the Government to allow providers to specialise in these services to the most disadvantaged job seekers” said ACOSS President Lin Hatfield Dodds.

ACOSS also supports the decision to reward service providers for social and educational outcomes that lead to employment for the most disadvantaged (such as improved literacy).

Improving employment outcomes for long term unemployed people is an ongoing challenge. To make serious inroads into one of Australia’s most profound social and economic problems, more substantial investment will be needed in the future in work experience, training and other help for long term unemployed people.

ACOSS also welcomed the removal of the automatic loss of 8 weeks of income support for those who breach their activity requirements three times in a year, which should reduce the number of these penalties that are applied. However, consideration should also be given to reducing the 8 week penalty itself as this is too harsh for peopleon very low incomes.

ACOSS will continue to work with its members and the Government to develop a compliance system that engages unemployed people without causing widespread hardship.