Fears of welfare system overload when mutual obligation requirements return next week

Mutual obligation requirements such as job interviews will begin again next week for welfare recipients, including those sacked during the coronavirus pandemic.

People are seen waiting in line at a Centrelink office

People are seen waiting in line at a Centrelink office Source: AAP

There are fears Australia's welfare system won't cope with an influx of unemployed people when job hunting requirements restart.

Mutual obligation requirements such as job interviews will begin again next Tuesday.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston has framed the return as gradual.

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Welfare recipients won't be penalised for failing to meet any conditions during the initial period.

due to strict social distancing rules and health concerns.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert wants obligations to be suspended for six months.

She is concerned the system won't meet the needs of the huge number of jobseekers.

"We know we have a very large number of people who are unemployed, underemployed and not currently engaged in the labour market, many of whom will be engaging with job service providers and having to deal with mutual obligations for the first time," she said.

"This will put a lot of pressure on a system that is already not fit for purpose and I am not confident the system is prepared for this influx."



Senator Ruston says newly unemployed people who are fresh to the system will be the focus of the initial restart.

"It's a very light touch return to initial obligations," she told ABC radio on Monday.

"We just want to start getting people used to the idea of engaging with the workforce because as jobs become available we want to make sure that we've got the best possible chance of matching up people into those jobs as soon as they're created."

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at 


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Published 1 June 2020 at 2:32pm