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Need to rebuild privatised employment services system is obvious and long overdue

Need to rebuild privatised employment services system is obvious and long overdue

Media Release
01/12/2023

St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia has added its voice to widespread support for the Australian Parliamentary inquiry of Workforce Australia’s management of employment services, saying it agreed with the overall finding that, ‘The significant and numerous issues identified in this inquiry [demand] wholesale, large-scale reform in the coming months and years to fundamentally rebuild the Australian system’.  

The Rebuilding Employment Services report by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services was tabled yesterday. It contains 75 recommendations supported by almost 600 pages of detailed analysis. St Vincent de Paul Society’s submission to the inquiry is here.  

St Vincent de Paul Society National President, Mark Gaetani said, ‘In recent years, we have seen the operation of a largely privatised job placement system that was ineffective, delivering very negative, often cruel, impacts on Australians seeking work, and that has contributed little, if anything, to the wider economy.  

‘We endorse the words of the Committee Chair, Mr Julian Hill MP, who said, “It’s harsh but true to say that Australia no longer has an effective coherent national employment services system; we have an inefficient outsourced fragmented social security compliance management system that sometimes gets someone a job against all odds.”  

‘This is an indictment of a system that was allowed to roll on for a quarter-century, supposedly with government oversight, despite the many flaws identified by job seekers, employers and advocacy groups such as St Vincent de Paul Society. 

‘For years we have raised our concerns about this system, including the analysis in our Let’s Build a Fairer Australia! policy suite.  This parliamentary report lifts a veil on the practices of Workforce Australia and its preceding iterations, which even many of its own staff have been deeply concerned about,’ Mr Gaetani said.   

‘The many recommendations we support include: an end to automated suspension of payments; an overhaul of the employment services sector with the establishment of Employment Services Australia and an Employment Service Quality Commission; reforming the mutual obligation framework; a national wage subsidy and work experience scheme for the long-term unemployed; increased employment and training of Services Australia staff and increasing funding and use of specialist providers, including Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse service partners. 

 ‘We endorse the report’s aim of setting out a comprehensive and ambitious blueprint to rebuild the Commonwealth Employment Services System, underpinned, as it states, “by the guiding vision that all people in Australia be able to enjoy decent employment and participate in economic and social life regardless of who they are or where they live.”   

‘For the last five years the Society has advocated for employment services to be refocused to support job seekers into work that aligns with their aspirations, abilities, skills, and interests, and which enables personal agency. We call on the Government to implement the Committee’s recommendations to help bring this aim to fruition,’ Mr Gaetani said.  

 

The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia consists of 45,000 members and volunteers who operate on the ground through over 1,000 groups located in local communities across the country.

 

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