Program 1.1 Employment services

jobactive logo


On 1 July 2015, jobactive replaced the Job Services Australia program, changing the design and delivery of employment services.

Through jobactive, the Government aims to improve sustainable employment outcome with services to job seekers and incentives that better meet the needs of employers. Combined with clear expectations of active participation by job seekers, jobactive promotes stronger workforce participation and helps unemployed Australians to reduce their reliance on income support.

As part of the successful implementation of jobactive, 758,096 job seekers were transferred to the new program.

There are five services in jobactive:

  • jobactive providers, which assist job seekers to 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
  • the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, which helps eligible job seekers to start and run their own small businesses
  • Harvest Labour Services, which gather 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:

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

These objectives provide the framework for measuring and tracking the success of jobactive in achieving Outcome 1.

jobactive providers

jobactive providers give job seekers the practical support they need to prepare for, secure and stay in work, taking into account their individual circumstances. At the same time, providers have a high level of employer engagement to ensure that employers can fill vacancies with job seekers who meet their needs.

In 2015–16, more than 345,000 job placements were recorded by jobactive providers who operate in more than 1,700 locations across Australia.

The jobactive model offers incentives for providers to deliver high-quality services, activate job seekers and achieve sustained employment outcomes. In 2015–16, 36 jobactive providers received or maintained certification under the jobactive Quality Assurance Framework. The remaining eight providers are expected to receive certification by the end of 2016.

A key strength of jobactive is the flexibility. jobactive providers can put in place personalised strategies and innovative approaches to working with job seekers, employers and other providers.

In the first year of jobactive, the Department made a range of refinements to better support jobactive providers. Fine-tuning included paying of advance fees to providers, changes to the Employment Fund to allow greater flexibility for providers and greater access to assistance for job seekers, and recognition of the responsibilities of lead providers in Work for the Dole. These refinements were the direct result of the Department’s commitment to consulting with key stakeholders—a commitment that is vital to jobactive continuing to meet its objectives.

Work for the Dole

The introduction of jobactive included the national rollout of the Work for the Dole program. New coordinators were on the ground from 1 May 2015 to source work experience places in preparation for the start of jobactive.

Work for the Dole is an important part of the jobactive model. Most job seekers who are registered with a jobactive provider participate in a Work for the Dole activity (or another approved activity) for six months each year if they have mutual obligation requirements. Participating in Work for the Dole provides job seekers with work-like experience and helps them to make a positive contribution to their communities.

Work for the Dole activities are hosted by not-for-profit organisations and government agencies. The program gives organisations an extra set of hands to work on projects that would not otherwise get done.

In 2015–16, more than 106,000 job seekers participated in over 116,000 Work for the Dole places in around 17,000 Work for the Dole activities across Australia. Early in-program and post-program monitoring data shows that job seekers are moving into employment after participating in Work for the Dole—27.2 per cent were in employment around three months after completing a Work for the Dole activity.

In 2015–16 the Department conducted a survey of 4,973 job seekers on their experiences of the Work for the Dole program. The survey had a 41.4 per cent response rate.

Respondents reported high levels of satisfaction with their Work for the Dole activities:

  • 81.1 per cent were satisfied with the work environment
  • 80.0 per cent were satisfied with the level of supervision
  • 70.5 per cent were satisfied with the organisation of the activity
  • 80.1 per cent were satisfied with the activity in terms of helping the local community.

Job seekers also agreed that their Work for the Dole activity improved their ability to adapt to a new environment (76.1 per cent), their communication skills (70.2 per cent) and their work experience (68.2 per cent).

Work for the Dole has established a work health and safety framework involving Work for the Dole Coordinators, jobactive providers, host organisations and the job seekers themselves. Work for the Dole Coordinators (or providers if they have sourced the activity) 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 any changes are addressed.

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

All work health and safety concerns are taken very seriously. During 2015–16, jobactive providers reported 646 incidents to the Department’s insurer, including 500 where injury was sustained by the job seeker. Tragically, a Work for the Dole participant was fatally injured in April 2016. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is investigating the circumstances of the fatality. The Department immediately undertook a review of the management of Work for the Dole by the jobactive provider involved and risk management in administering Work for the Dole.

New Enterprise Incentive Scheme

In 2015–16 the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme supported the establishment of 5,152 small businesses. The scheme provides accredited small business training, business mentoring and advice to eligible job seekers for up to 52 weeks. Participants may also be eligible for an income support allowance for up to 39 weeks while their businesses are being established.

In March 2016, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, launched a booklet celebrating the scheme’s 30th anniversary. The booklet showcases some of the successful businesses started with the help of the scheme over the past 30 years.

As part of the Government’s Youth Employment Package, the Department is working to encourage more people, particularly young people, to consider self-employment as a career pathway. This approach, beginning on 1 December 2016, will offer additional flexibility and support to a wider range of people who want to establish a small business.

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash launching the booklet celebrating the scheme’s 30th anniversary
Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash launching the booklet celebrating the scheme’s 30

Harvest Labour Services

To support the labour needs of horticultural growers, the Department contracts providers of Harvest Labour Services to link out-of-area workers with jobs picking fruit and other crops in rural and regional areas.

In 2015–16, the five providers filled around 12,704 harvest positions in 11 harvest areas—Kununurra, Top End, Tablelands, North Burnett, Southern Queensland, Riverina, Goulburn Valley, Mid Murray, Sunraysia, Riverland and Adelaide Hills.

National Harvest Labour Information Service

The National Harvest Labour Information Service provides comprehensive, up-to-date information about harvest work vacancies on the National Harvest Trail website. The service also coordinates the National Harvest Guide, which provides information about harvest work opportunities, working conditions, transport and accommodation around Australia.

The service links growers, grower associations and employment services, as well as state and territory governments, to promote harvest work opportunities to job seekers and employers.

Program assurance

To support the jobactive expenditure, in 2015–16 the Department implemented a revised process to ensure that payments have been made in line with the contract and guidelines. This included randomly selecting and reviewing between 15,000 and 20,000 payments made to providers each year.

The process complements existing assurance activities, such as risk-based targeted reviews, contract monitoring and the investigation of information received through the employment services tip-off line. The reviews will also help better target and identify risks and inform future program assurance activities.

The results from the random sample process and other program assurance activities feed into each jobactive provider’s compliance indicator. Providers whose level of compliance is below minimum expected standards may have their star rating reduced.