A new points system launching in Australia is set to change the rules governing employment support programs for jobseekers.
But as the results of a quick poll suggest, beneficiaries are concerned the now automated "points-based activation system" (PBAS) would make it harder for them to secure assistance.
Under the rebranded employment support program, Workforce Australia, recipients of income support payments from the government will see their mutual obligation requirements change drastically.
From 1 July, they will no longer be required to send in 20 job applications a month to continue receiving payments. Instead, most beneficiaries will need to accumulate a total of 100 points a month by performing certain tasks. Options for earning points include undertaking full-time work or full-time study.
Apart from the change in guidelines, PBAS will also purportedly depend on automation to gauge whether a beneficiary will be kept on the program or removed from it.
Concerns over Workforce Australia
This raft of changes is said to raise concerns among jobseekers who were surveyed by the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU). Most respondents are purportedly wary of the automated system, as well as potential hurdles when accumulating points or securing government support. Some are afraid the revamp would become more punitive than before.
Overall, about four in every five jobseekers polled by the AUWU are said to anticipate some – if not severe – impact from the updated system (78.5%). Others believe the system would fail to consider their circumstances (83.5%), survey results showed.
"We do think it will be much worse," said Daniel Levy, national secretary of the AUWU, as quoted by The Guardian Australia.
The union – which initially advocated for the abolition of PBAS – is now calling on Employment Minister Tony Burke to postpone the launch of PBAS for at least three months to give way to a more thorough review.
People Matters earlier reported on the shift to Workforce Australia and the accompanying changes at the individual level. The Department of Education, Skills and Employment urges beneficiaries who are unable to hit their target number of points to coordinate with the Digital Services Contact Centre regarding how they can tailor their requirements.