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‘Subject to penalties’: JobSeeker requirements reintroduced

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Peopler queue to enter Centrelink on March 24, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Non-essential travel has been banned in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Australia while venues such as bars, clubs, nightclubs, cinemas, gyms and restaurants, along with anywhere people remain static are now closed. Schools are currently open but parents have the option to keep children at home if they wish. There are now 1887 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and the death toll now stands at eight. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
There is a major change to JobSeeker on the way. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Australians receiving JobSeeker face penalties from 28 September if they fail to meet their mutual obligations requirements, the social services minister has confirmed.

From late September, Australians on unemployment benefits outside of Victoria will need to participate in appointments with their service provider, agree to a job plan and look for and accept suitable work. Most job seekers generally need to look for up to eight jobs a month under the program.

Mutual obligations were suspended in March 2020 as hundreds of thousands of Australians fell into unemployment, while businesses also shuttered doors across the country, Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston noted on Friday.

“Despite there still being health and economic challenges because of Covid-19, as the August 2020 labour force figures demonstrate, more Australians are returning to the workforce and many businesses are looking for workers,” she added.

While the tasks will differ per person, those who fail to meet their mutual obligations requirements will face payment suspensions or penalties if “there is no valid reason”, Ruston said.

“At present, job seekers are only subject to penalties or suspensions if they refuse an offer of employment without a valid reason,” she said.

“For some job seekers, who have been on income support for 12 months, Work for the Dole activities will also recommence where it is safe to do so and all health and safety requirements are met.”

Ruston said given the “changing nature of the labour market”, the Government is also boosting training programs for job seekers and introducing more flexibility so job seekers can study while receiving the income support.

The changes come into place three days after the Coronavirus Supplement, which effectively doubled the JobSeeker payment, reduces by $300 a fortnight.

Ruston’s announcement comes after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported unemployment fell by 0.7 per cent to 6.8 per cent, largely due to a growing number of people describing themselves as self-employed.