With the successful election of the Liberal government of John Howard in 1996, the agency was on short time. Liberal Government policy stated that all Employment services were to be opened up to privatisation.
Within 2 years, all federal government interests and claims to run employment services directly had been relinquished by April 1998.
External or Contracted Case Management (CCM’) ‘Job Agencies’ tendered for job/employment services. These services were run by organisations, community groups and for the first time ‘main stream’ privately run agencies.
As reported by Four Corners, unemployment is now big business in Australia in a system open to abuse where the unemployed have become a commodity.
Each year the Government spends about $1.3 billion on its welfare to work scheme. The maximum single rate of payment for Newstart is $519.20 per fortnight so the amount given to Jobs Service Providers equates to over 96,000 Newstart recipients’ yearly payment.
An agency whistleblower said “I would say about 80 percent of claims that come through have some sort of manipulation on them.”
They found evidence of fraud, manipulation, falsified paperwork, and the recycling of the unemployed through temporary jobs.
Hours are bumped up, wages are inflated, and in many cases, vital evidence to support claims from the taxpayer appears to have been falsified. One former jobseeker told Four Corners her paperwork appears to have been completely forged.
In recent years Government checks have forced some companies to pay back millions of dollars, but few are sanctioned. Former job agency employees say crucial internal records are adjusted in preparation for government audits.
A former job agency employee said “That, I guess, caused alarm bells for me… Claims that have been claimed, signatures that weren’t on them, and we were sort of told, you know, if the signature’s not on it, get it any way that you can.”
Currently, only jobseekers aged from 18 to 30 who live in 18 trial sites across Australia are required to undertake compulsory work for the dole.
From July, the scheme will be expanded nationally and take in all job seekers up to the age of 49.
The federal government is poised to announce the results of tender process for its revamped $5.1 billion job services system, which will include a confirmation of the new requirements job seekers will have to meet from July this year.
The new mutual obligation requirements will see Australians under 50 having to undertake work for the dole programs for 15 hours a week, for six months of every year they remain unemployed.
Unemployed people under the age of 30 will have to do 25 hours of work for the dole a week, and all job seekers will have to apply for 20 jobs a month
In its first budget, the Abbott government announced a new policy of removing 16,500 full-time-equivalent jobs from the Australian Public Service by June 2017.
Senator Abetz said on March 10 that this target would be reached earlier than planned.
Under the Coalition government some 14,400 Australian Public Service jobs had been cut by the end of 2014. Of the 13,200 staff who left the public service last year, about half were retrenched.
The Tax Office and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission each lost 17 per cent of their staff, and the Treasury and the Attorney-General’s Department both lost 16 per cent. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet lost 474 jobs during 2014.
Rather than making thousands more people unemployed and paying billions to profit-making organisations, many of whom are rorting the system, think of the advantages of reinstating the CES.
Aside from hooking workers up with jobs, a nationwide body could liase with other government departments identifying demographics, seasonal work, skills shortages, employment trends, training opportunities and support services.
It would also make it much easier for the unemployed to satisfy the obligation of applying for twenty jobs every month if they could go into the CES and search for advertised jobs.
Rather than handing out 457 visas, we could match up skilled older workers with jobs or direct young people to appropriate training to fill employment needs. Refugees could be found gainful employment.
If we are going to have work for the dole programmes and the $300 million Green Army, they would be better administered by the public service than private firms bidding for free labour.
The oversight and avenues for redress offered by such an organisation would go a long way towards stamping out exploitation.
The conservative penchant for small government is costing thousands of jobs and making a thriving profit-driven industry of untrained disinterested people making money from the misery of the unemployed whilst doing little to address the underlying problems.