Labor has decided to push ahead with changes to the Jobactive system for job seekers with a couple of adjustments.
The “points-based activation system” is scheduled to commence on July 4 and will replace the existing mutual-obligation system for people receiving JobSeeker payments.
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Mutual obligations are a set of tasks that must be completed, and expectations satisfied, for JobSeeker recipients to receive their allowance.
The new system, which requires job seekers to acquire 100 points each month by completing tasks worth a certain number of points, has been criticised for replicating some of the same issues with the old system.
Welfare advocates also voiced their concerns about the lack of communication during the rollout, with many job seekers left in the dark about how the new system would work.
However, Labor said it had little choice but to stick with the new points-based system, arguing that the previous federal government signed billions of dollars worth of contracts with providers just before the election.
However, in response to concerns from job seekers and welfare advocates, the Labor Government has made some changes to the incoming system.
Firstly, existing job seekers will be offered a “clean slate”. This means all penalties or demerits acquired under the old system will be wiped.
The Government also plans to change the number of points attached to different activities, including increasing - from 20 to 50 - the number of points people get for starting work. There is also more flexibility to increase the number of points for several tasks, depending on the situation.
Other changes to point allocations include:
Driver’s licence hours - upped from 5 to 10 points
Counselling - upped from 10 to 15 points
Drug and alcohol rehabilitation - upped from 10 to 15 points
Non-vocational assistance (such as personal development courses) - upped from 10 to 15 points
Provider workshops and informal activities (such as job clubs) - upped from 10 to 15 points
Self help and support groups - upped from 10 to 15 points
Worked-related licences and qualifications - upped from 15 to 20 points
Adult Migrant English Program - upped from 20 to 25 points (fulltime)
Skills for Education and Employment - upped from 20 to 25 points
Attending a job interview - upped from 20 to 25 points
Driver’s licence attainment - upped from 20 to 25 points
See the full list of altered point allocations here.
The Government also wants to ensure people participating in full-time study or training will not be penalised, which includes allowing vulnerable individuals doing approved, short, full-time courses an exemption from any other job-search requirements.
The Government has also reduced the new minimum job-search requirements from five to four per month.
More flexibility has also been built into the system, the Government claimed, so that points can be reduced to reflect personal circumstances and weak labour market conditions.
“It is important to note that people who continue to do exactly what they did under the old system – apply for 20 jobs a month – will still meet their points requirements and therefore satisfy their mutual obligation,” Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Tony Burke said.
Acting Australian Council of Social Service CEO Edwina MacDonald welcomed the Government's move to review the employment services system.
“While the new system is an improvement on jobactive, it retains many deeply problematic aspects of the old employment services system that need to go, such as computer-generated payment suspensions and inflexible regimes of compulsory activities like Work for the Dole,” MacDonald said.
“The one-month suspension of activity requirements and penalties should also be extended to something more reasonable, like three months, and this should also apply to non-attendance at provider appointments,” she added.
MacDonald said long term unemployment had increased to its highest rate ever, with over 760,000 people on Jobseeker or Youth Allowance payments for over a year.
“Without changing the services so that they are more flexible, personalised and fair, we are in danger of continuing to punish people who are struggling to find paid work that is suitable for them,” she said.