2017–18 Budget - Employment Overview

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The Government has announced additional support in the Budget for some of the most vulnerable people in our society, with a particular focus on helping a greater number of disadvantaged parents of young children, Indigenous Australians and older people into employment.

ParentsNext – National Expansion

The ParentsNext pre-employment program will be expanded to help more parents with young children at risk of long term welfare dependency to plan and prepare for employment by the time their children start school. 

ParentsNext is already operating in 10 designated Local Government Areas, helping parents to connect to services in their local community to support their transition into employment, such as education, training, literacy/numeracy programs, and child care. 

From 1 July 2018, the ParentsNext program will be expanded nationally to allow more parents to access personalised assistance to improve their work readiness.

The expanded ParentsNext will be delivered in two streams:

  • Nationally, to the most disadvantaged parents in all 51 Employment Regions covered by jobactive providers.
  • A more intensive service in 30 locations, which are highly disadvantaged or have a high proportion of Parenting Payment recipients who are Indigenous.

Closing the Gap – Employment Services

A new Closing the Gap – Employment Services measure will support progress on achieving parity in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Components include:

  • Place-based Approaches will pilot community delivered employment services in Yarrabah, Queensland.
  • Revitalising employment services for Indigenous Australians to boost jobactive and allow better targeted and more upfront intensive services to be provided to Indigenous job seekers.
  • A voluntary Prison to Work program will provide Indigenous prisoners with assistance to access the support they need on their release, better preparing them to find employment and transition back into the community.
  • Mentoring and more support for Indigenous youth, with pre- and post-mentoring support to help prepare Indigenous Australians to be job ready and gain employment, and expanding the Transition to Work service for all Indigenous youth aged 15 to 21, including those who have completed high school.

Better targeting of assistance to support jobseekers

Work for the Dole

To help streamline Work for the Dole administration, Work for the Dole Coordinator contracts will cease and jobactive providers will instead source all Work for the Dole places from 1 January 2018.

Work for the Dole group-based activities will be refocused to primarily target places to the most disadvantaged people, that is, those who face a range of vocational and non-vocational barriers.

New Compliance Framework

From 1 July 2018 the Government will introduce a new targeted compliance framework that strengthens penalties for persistent and deliberate non-compliance while providing additional help for genuine job seekers to meet their requirements.

All job seekers will commence in a Personal Responsibility Phase (demerits phase), where failures to comply with requirements will result in payment suspension and demerit, but no actual penalty.

If someone accrues four demerits in six months they will enter the Intensive Compliance Phase (three strikes phase), in which they will face incrementally stronger penalties. They will:

  • lose 50 per cent of their fortnightly payment for their first strike 
  • lose 100 per cent of their fortnightly payment for their second strike
  • have their payment cancelled for four weeks for their third strike

To ensure that those who are genuinely looking for work and simply having difficulty meeting their requirements do not enter the three strikes phase, their provider will assess their capability and requirements after their third demerit, and the Department of Human Services will also do so after their fourth.

Faster Connection to jobactive

A new ‘Work First’ approach in the income support claim process will encourage recipients to make faster connections with employment service providers, improving their chances of finding work quickly.

Under the current arrangements, income support payments are backdated to the date the payment recipient first contacted the Department of Human Services.

From 1 January 2018, income support payments will start from the date a recipient attends their first appointment with their employment service (jobactive or Transition to Work) provider. This will encourage people who are looking for work to engage as quickly as possible with the services that will help them to find a job.

The Budget also includes support for job seekers to overcome any drug or alcohol dependency, to improve their chances of finding and maintaining a job and reduce the risk of ongoing welfare dependency.

There are two Employment-led initiatives in the Budget to incentivise and support drug and alcohol users to address their dependency:

Tightening reasonable excuse for non-compliance

There will be changes to the ‘reasonable excuse’ provisions in the compliance framework, to address a loophole allowing drug or alcohol users to repeatedly avoid their requirements while making no effort to address their dependency.  From 1 January 2018, job seekers will no longer be able to repeatedly use drug or alcohol dependency as a reasonable excuse, unless they agree to seek treatment, where available and appropriate.

Allow Drug Addiction Treatments/Interventions as an Approved Activity

A further change to the job seeker requirements will be the inclusion of drug or alcohol addiction treatments as an approved activity that will count towards Annual Activity Requirements for all job seekers under jobactive (Streams A, B and C). Currently, this option only applies to those who face the most significant barriers to finding employment (Stream C job seekers).

This proposal will extend support to those who are considered most job ready (Streams A and B) with drug or alcohol addictions, to address these barriers to employment and prevent further disadvantage. 

Working Age Payments reforms

Stronger Participation Requirements

As part of the Working Age Payment reform measure, a new system of participation and mutual obligation rules will encourage more people to actively look for work and join in activities that will boost their chances of getting a job.

Participation requirements for job seekers aged 30 to 49, and job seekers aged 55 to the Age Pension age will be strengthened, along with increased support to help them into employment.

This will increase the time people spend in activities that lead to work, better connect them with the labour market and align requirements with community expectations.

Mature age employment

To provide more opportunities for mature age people looking for work, from 1 July 2018 a range of initiatives will be introduced to provide additional assistance to people aged 50 years and over, including:

  • A new Career Transition Assistance Program to provide more opportunities for mature age people to reskill. The program will be a short, intensive course consisting of skills assessments, exploration of suitable occupations, research of the local labour market and learning resilience strategies. This will be followed by ICT training where necessary. This program will commence in five trial regions, before being rolled out nationally in July 2020.
  • The expansion of the National Work Experience Programme (NWEP) to provide more work experience opportunities for mature age people looking for work. The number of NWEP places will increase by 4,000 per year. Payments will be made available for providers and host businesses ($300 incentive payment for host businesses and $400 outcome fee per completed placement for jobactive and Transition to Work providers).
  • A series of Pathway to Work pilots will be established in selected growth industries and/or large infrastructure projects. Up to ten pilots will be developed with two main aims: to create additional pathways for those on income support to gain employment, and to help combat negative perceptions among employers of certain unemployed people and encourage them to have a diverse workforce, particularly mature age and people with disability.

Previous Budget measures

Helping vulnerable young people into the workforce remains a primary focus under the Youth Employment Package, announced in the 2016-17 Budget. Central to this is the Youth Jobs PaTH program, which fully commenced in April this year to help prepare young people for a job and encourage businesses to trial and hire a job ready young person.

The Government’s jobactive employment services introduced in July 2015 will also continue to help employers find staff to meet their business needs and move more job seekers into jobs.

For further details including Portfolio Budget Statements and agency outcomes, visit our Portfolio Budget Statements 2017-18 page.