Work for the dole
There is a focus on young jobless in Abbott government’s ‘enhanced’ work for the dole.
Abbott government reintroduces a compulsory work-for-the-dole scheme, threatening welfare payments for those who turn down a job close to home.
The Abbott government wants to expand the program targetting young unemployed.
Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker told Fairfax Media on under current plans, work-for-the-dole participants could be working in team projects, such as building a walkway or maintaining gardens or undertake placements in not-for-profit organisations.
He argued work-for-the-dole improved job seekers’ prospects and taught them necessary ”soft skills” such as dressing appropriately for the workplace and turning up to work on time.
Mr Hartsuyker stressed that the government’s plans were still ”very much a work in progress” but said the Coalition hoped it would be ”operational in the next financial year”.
Work-for-the-dole was introduced by the Howard government but scaled back under Labor.
In its current form, after 12 months, jobseekers between 18 and 49 are generally required to participate in a “work experience activity” – where work-for-the-dole is one option – for six months out of a 12-month period.
A work experience activity could also include volunteering in the community sector – such as working with elderly or disabled people – work on conservation projects or part-time study.
After this 12-month period, most job seekers are required to participate in a work experience activity for 11 months out of every 12-month period.
As part of its election commitments, the Abbott government pledged to ”restore work-for-the-dole for those under 50 who have been on income support for six months or more”.
Mr Hartsuyker explained that he was re-examining the work-for-the-dole program as part of a broader review into Job Services Australia aimed at cutting red tape.
He said the government was moving forward ”very slowly, very methodically” with its review and was mindful that work-for-the-dole jobs should not displace paid positions.
Mr Hartsuyker did not confirm reports that work-for-the-dole participants would be forced to collect rubbish.
When asked if the revamped Coalition model would make work-for-the-dole compulsory, he said that there would be a ”very strong onus on job seekers” to participate in the scheme if they were not studying or could not find a job.
When asked if dole payments would be withheld for those who did not comply, he said that the withdrawal of benefits ”could be a sanction that could be applied”.
”The exact detail of how that would work, we’re currently working through at the moment,” he said.
Read more: SMH