Program 1.1 Employment Services


2016–17 was the second year of operation of jobactive, the Australian Government’s mainstream employment services system introduced on 1 July 2015. jobactive is made up of five services:

  • jobactive providers, which help job seekers find and keep a job and ensure employers are receiving candidates who meet their business needs
  • Work for the Dole coordinators, which source Work for the Dole activities in the not-for-profit and government sectors to help prepare job seekers for the work environment. In the 2017–18 Budget, the Government announced that Work for the Dole coordinators will be discontinued at the end of December 2017, with all Work for the Dole places to be sourced in future by jobactive providers
  • the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, which helps eligible job seekers start and run their own small businesses
  • Harvest Labour Services, which obtain information on vacancies from growers and supply job seekers to horticultural producers that need out-of-area harvest workers
  • the National Harvest Labour Information Service, which coordinates information about harvest opportunities across Australia.

jobactive has four objectives:

  • helping job seekers find and keep a job
  • helping job seekers move from welfare to work
  • helping job seekers meet their mutual obligations
  • jobactive organisations delivering quality services.

These objectives provide the framework for measuring and tracking jobactive’s success in relation to Outcome 1. The objectives of Program 1.1 contribute to Outcome 1 by helping job seekers move into employment.

jobactive providers

Throughout 2016–17, jobactive providers continued to provide job seekers with flexible and practical support to secure and stay in work, taking into account their individual circumstances. As part of this, providers helped job seekers overcome difficulties holding them back from employment through activities that also helped them meet their mutual obligation requirements. Providers also worked closely with industry and employers to understand their recruitment needs, identify job opportunities for job seekers, and ensure they have access to job seekers able to meet their needs.

Building on the achievements of 2015–16, in its second year jobactive’s performance was stronger in gaining sustained employment outcomes for job seekers. More job placements were achieved, and the proportions of job placements sustained to four, 12 and 26 weeks overall, and for Indigenous job seekers, exceeded the results for 2015–16.

The Department re-allocates business between providers to encourage the delivery of high-quality services for job seekers and employers, and as a means of promoting improved performance. The first business re allocation was performed for jobactive providers, based on performance to December 2016, with resultant transfers of business shares at the end of June 2017. In Western Australian employment regions, business re allocation decisions have been deferred in five regions and partially deferred in another region until early 2017–18. This has been done to give providers an opportunity to improve their performance and ensure that job seekers have access to high-quality jobactive services.

During 2016–17, the Department continued to refine the program in response to feedback from jobactive providers, job seekers and employers. It implemented a number of policy and IT system changes that gave jobactive providers greater flexibility and accuracy in managing employment outcomes, simplified the administration of wage subsidies and the Employment Fund, and increased opportunities for young people.

The Work for the Dole phase

Activating job seekers is one of the key objectives of jobactive. Departmental administrative data shows that it works—put simply, activated job seekers are more likely to get and keep a job. Under jobactive, job seekers who have been unemployed for 12 months or longer have a range of mutual obligations and are required to participate in an approved activity (or combination of activities) for six months each year while they remain unemployed. During this six month period—known as the Work for the Dole Phase—job seekers are required to participate in activities to improve their employment prospects. These activities may include participation in Work for the Dole and/or part time employment, study or training.

Job seekers who are working on a casual, temporary or part-time basis can use their hours of paid work to contribute towards meeting their mutual obligations as part of their Annual Activity Requirement (AAR). The AAR is the set number of hours they must complete in the Work for the Dole phase. Similarly, job seekers who are undertaking approved part-time or full-time study or training (generally at the Certificate lll level or higher) can use their hours of participation to contribute towards meeting their AAR.

In 2016–17, Work for the Dole continued to provide opportunities for participants to gain the skills, experience and confidence to help them move into work while making a positive contribution to the community. Work for the Dole activities are hosted by not-for-profit organisations and government agencies. It provides a valuable opportunity for job seekers to demonstrate their capabilities and positive work behaviours which will stand them in good stead with potential employers while at the same time making a positive contribution to the local community.

In 2016–17, more than 94,000 job seekers participated in over 82,000 Work for the Dole positions in about 13,000 Work for the Dole activities in non-remote Australia. 

Post-program monitoring data shows that many job seekers have started work soon after leaving Work for the Dole: 28.9 per cent of job seekers who left Work for the Dole between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2016 were in employment about three months later.

The Department also surveys job seekers six weeks after they start in a Work for the Dole activity. Between 1 February 2016 and 31 January 2017, 6,500 job seekers were surveyed about their experience of the program. There was a 41 per cent response rate. Reflecting that Work for the Dole is primarily an activation program, 72.0 per cent of participants surveyed reported an increase in their motivation to find a job. Most participants agreed that their participation led to an improved ability to adapt to a new environment (75.0 per cent), better communication skills (70.0 per cent) and a more positive work experience (66.7 per cent). Respondents also reported a high level of satisfaction with their Work for the Dole activities:

  • 80.7 per cent satisfied with the work environment
  • 78.5 per cent satisfied with the level of supervision
  • 70.5 per cent satisfied with the organisation, the community contribution and the quality of the activity.

These findings have remained stable since the current program commenced on 1 July 2015.

The work health and safety framework for Work for the Dole involves Work for the Dole coordinators, jobactive providers, host organisations and the job seekers themselves. The coordinators or providers are responsible for conducting a risk assessment on the work health and safety of each Work for the Dole activity. Providers are also responsible for conducting a risk assessment for each job seeker placed in an activity and ongoing monitoring of activities to ensure that any challenges are addressed.

The Department purchases personal accident insurance for job seekers participating in activities, as well as combined public and product liability insurance covering job seekers for negligence that causes third-party personal injury or damage.

All work health and safety concerns are taken seriously. Complaints or issues brought to the Department’s attention are followed up and investigated as a priority. The Department has processes in place to respond to all reported incidents to ensure appropriate action is taken and job seeker safety is maintained.

The New Enterprise Incentive Scheme

In 2016–17, the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme supported the establishment of 6,172 small businesses. Changes introduced by the department in 2016 to streamline access to the program as well as the broadening of program eligibility criteria contributed to an increase of almost 20 per cent in commencements under the program from 2015–16.

The scheme offers accredited small business training, business mentoring and advice to eligible job seekers for up to 52 weeks. Participants can also be eligible for an income support allowance (in the form of a New Enterprise Incentive Scheme allowance) for up to 39 weeks while their business is being established.

Harvest Labour Services

To help meet the labour needs of horticultural enterprises, the Department contracts providers of Harvest Labour Services to match out-of-area workers with harvesting jobs in rural and regional areas. In 2016–17, the five Harvest Labour Services providers filled close to 14,200 harvest areas—Kununurra, Top End, Tablelands, North Burnett, Southern Queensland, Riverina, Goulburn Valley, Mid Murray, Sunraysia, Riverland and Adelaide Hills. This was an increase of 11.67 per cent over 2015–16.

In April 2017, the Department expanded eligibility for Harvest Labour Services to include labour hire companies and contractors and harvest work other than picking (such as chipping, weeding, pruning and packing). These changes were well received by Harvest Labour Services providers and are expected to improve uptake of the program by employers.

The National Harvest Labour Information Service

To assist with the dissemination of information about crops and harvest work opportunities across all growing regions in Australia, the Department contracts the provider of the National Harvest Information Service to produce a comprehensive harvest guide, operate a free-call call centre, and keep the Harvest Trail website up to date.