Wednesday, 13 November 2019
Questions without Notice
South Australia: Employment
My question is to the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator Cash. My home state of South Australia currently has an unemployment rate of 6.3 per cent, which is higher than the national average. I've been speaking to a number of people who are desperately trying to get into the job market and finding it very difficult. Whilst I acknowledge the government's jobactive system has some high-performing providers, it also has a number of dodgy providers who have been milking the system without providing effective outcomes. When will the government take meaningful action to stop these dodgy providers preying on vulnerable jobseekers at taxpayers' expense?
I do thank Senator Bernardi for some notice of this question. The Australian government is, of course, committed, and very proud to be committed, to getting Australians off welfare and into work. One of the ways that we do that is through our world-class employment services system. What this system does is help prepare Australians for meaningful and sustainable work opportunities.
The government's principal employment service is known as jobactive. If you compare it to the former contract, Job Services Australia, jobactive is delivering more 26-week outcomes at a lower cost. From July 2015 to October 2019, jobactive achieved 1.5 million job placements, and it continues to achieve around 1,000 job placements per day.
You referred to the integrity of jobactive providers. I can assure you the government are committed to the integrity of jobactive providers and we expect a very high level of service for their clients. Each provider is given a star rating. This star rating is publicly available, so a jobseeker can actually go online to the department's website and compare providers. The most recent star rating result showed 90 per cent of employment regions have one or more sites with the highest possible rating of five stars. The best performing sites are actually spread across regional and metropolitan Australia.
If a provider is not performing—and I welcome any feedback in that regard—the department can actually take away some of their market share and reallocate it to a provider that is a high-performing provider. That way we are ensuring that only the best providers are in the market.
Minister, I met recently with a young man—I will call him Paul—who has been unemployed for some time. He informed me that under jobactive he's referred to as 'stream C', which, I understand, means he needs the most support to get work. He says he feels that his jobactive provider is not supporting him with the services he needs given the barriers he faces and is simply interested in ticking the bureaucratic box in order to get their money from the government. Given the government says it's committed to getting young people off welfare and into work, what is the government doing to help people like Paul? (Time expired)
Thank you, Senator Bernardi. There is flexibility in the system for jobseekers like your constituent Paul. Providers themselves have access to what is called an employment fund. It is a fund that is obviously set up by the government. Through this fund, the provider is able to ensure that the jobseeker—in this case it's a stream C jobseeker, as you've identified, and they have the most barriers out of all of the jobseekers—will get the tailored support that they need to get off welfare and into work. But what we're also doing as a government is transforming employment services to ensure that we deliver better outcomes for jobseekers and employers and a better system for providers. We are redesigning the system so that stream C jobseekers, like Paul, have access to the most opportunities to move from welfare—
Minister, Paul tells me he's not happy with his jobactive provider. He wants to move to a provider that is closer to his home and one that is more interested in helping him rather than helping themselves. He's worried that he's going to be penalised if he does this. Is this true, and what do I say to Paul, who just wants to get into the workforce?
In the first instance, I can assure you that no jobseeker is penalised for wanting to move provider. In fact, the transparency of the five-star rating system ensures that a jobseeker is able to go online and compare their providers, and, if they see there's a better provider, or if they want to move because another provider is closer to where they're located, they are able to do this. At the same time, they are then entitled to the same level of service. So you can absolutely go back to your constituent and advise them that they are able to transfer. There are mechanisms available to the constituent in the event that they do want to. They can call the department's national customer service line. The department will actually assist them in changing over providers and, again, they will ensure that, if they do want to change providers or if they identify that they're not quite sure which provider they can go to, that assistance will be given and there is no penalty.