The Department’s purpose is to foster a productive and competitive labour market through employment policies and programs that increase workforce participation, and facilitate jobs growth through policies that promote fair, productive, flexible and safe workplaces.
While Australia’s labour market conditions have seen improvements during 2016–17, there continue to be groups where unemployment figures remain relatively high. For example, the unemployment rate for young people has consistently been more than twice the total unemployment rate. Other cohorts who experience complex barriers to employment include mature-age people, Indigenous Australians, migrants, refugees, women and parents. The Department implemented programs to improve workforce participation for these groups, and in 2016–17 had positive results from programs such as Transition to Work. Australia is currently experiencing employment growth, and the Department’s targeted support, as well as the educational and training programs of other Australian Government entities, help make these cohorts more competitive within the overall labour market.
Working closely with other government entities enables the Department to ensure consistent delivery of employment services. Through the jobactive program, the Department continued to deliver effective and efficient employment services to help job seekers find and keep a job.
Access to fair, productive, flexible and safe work helps individuals to fulfil their potential, families to thrive and businesses and communities to prosper and grow—in turn facilitating jobs growth. Throughout 2016–17, the Department provided workplace relations policy advice, assisting the Government in the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the establishment of the Registered Organisations Commission. The Department also administered the Fair Entitlements Guarantee, and the Australian Government Building and Construction Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme. These programs provided financial assistance to retrenched workers and helped businesses gain and maintain improved safety standards. The latest available data show that productivity increased by 1.7 per cent over the year to the June quarter and that the rate of industrial disputation remains low.