Australia

Jobactive program 'not fit for purpose'

A government program designed to help people on welfare find work is doing the opposite, a Senate committee has found.

A program aimed at helping job seekers find work has been slammed as "not fit for purpose" by a Senate committee.

The Jobactive scheme, which is already under review by the government, is meant to help people on welfare find work but the committee found it is doing the opposite.

Requirements for job-seekers, such as attending meetings with service providers and applying for 20 jobs a month, in order to to keep their unemployment benefits were described by the senators as "punitive and in some cases grossly unfair".

In many cases, participants were missing paid employment to attend appointments with their Jobactive provider.

"As I have casual work I often have to try to reschedule appointments but there is no flexibility and I always just get another appointment automatically set for me without checking with me to see if I can make it, which almost always I cannot," a casual worker said in a submission to the committee.

"It seems the only way to stop these job providers from trying to harass me is to turn down work so I can jump through their inflexible hoops that don't lead me to employment anyhow."

The committee made 41 recommendations, the first being a review into the rate of Newstart and whether it keeps people out of poverty and back into work.

It also called for a review of the youth PaTH program.

The committee, made up of three Labor senators, two coalition members and a Greens senator, held five public hearings with unemployed people and receiving more than 150 submissions.

Coalition senators issued a dissenting report, saying that while Jobactive was "far from perfect" it was performing well and at a lower cost than previous programs.

The government is undertaking an exhaustive review and redesign of the employment services system, they added.

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