This report released on Tuesday surveyed respondents about their experiences of the Jobactive system, which has been the main scheme for people on unemployment benefits in Australia since 2015. Jobseekers are dissatisfied with the poor quality service and punitive treatment they’ve received under this $1bn-a-year privatised employment services program.
75% of respondents were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their Jobactive service, while just 10% reported they were satisfied. It said 46% of respondents believed their appointments were for less than 10 minutes and were a “tick-a-box exercise”. Although 89% of respondents said it was essential to have a choice about the requirements in their job plan, 65% said they could not select which activities they had to do to keep their benefits.
Common concerns, according to participants, included that monthly job search requirements were too high, training was not helpful, and consultant turnover was too familiar and disruptive to effective relationships.
In Workforce Australia, about half the total cohort of job seekers – those considered “job ready” – will complete their job search using an online portal instead of an agency. Only more disadvantaged jobseekers will be referred to an employment services provider as the government tries to free up resources for those deemed to need support.
A small sample of 40 participants in the ACOSS survey had taken part in an online trial of the new system. Of those, 67% reported not being able to understand the points-based activation system, which has received criticism from some advocates. Meanwhile, of the 60% of people who reported having had their payments suspended under Jobactive, 33% said this had caused high levels of stress and anxiety, and 11% indicated they could not pay rent on time.
By contrast, as reported in The Guardian, the Department of Employment’s most recent survey of Jobactive participants said 61.2% were satisfied with the service they received. In comparison, 21.6% took no position, and 17.2% were dissatisfied.