The Government’s JobSeeker hotline for employers to dob in job seekers who are ‘not genuine about their job search’ is punitive, subjective and unethical, resulting in more people being ‘breached’ meaning no income at all.
The Council of Small Business Organisations says it doubts the hotline would work in practice and suggests the government focuses on more supportive measures. We agree. Small business in Australia employs about 5 million people – they should know.
There’s a risk too that job seekers will be coerced into jobs that are far from home or offer poor conditions and low wages. It it can be very difficult for people who are long term unemployed or young and lacking experience, to find work.
The just-announced increase of $25/week raises the JobSeeker rate from 37.5 percent to 41.2 per cent of the minimum wage rate but is still widely considered too low to live on.
We believe that JobSeeker should have a bigger increase, no doubt. We need to allow unemployed people to be in the right headspace to apply for jobs and/or seek training, and an additional $25 per week just isn’t enough to live on. You’re not going to be in the right headspace to make major changes to your life if you’re worried about being able to afford groceries and other basic living expenses.
We need to provide the skills and in some cases the attitude to job seekers that they need to get back into work. Placed based support, place based training and individual support where needed will get people into jobs. Talking to industry, designing training and listening are important to managing change.Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA
The Government announcements this week are more stick than carrot.
Jobseekers will now need to apply for 15 jobs a month, up from the current eight, and this will increase to 20 in July. With unemployment rates at 7.68% (they were 5.16% in 2019), under-employment at 8 per cent and youth unemployment almost 14%, jobs will be few and far between. Employers are already inundated with hundreds of job applications so most job seekers will be lucky to even get a reply.
After six months on welfare people will also be required to do a short course or work experience. Most have done multiple short courses already. If the jobs are not there a two-week course won’t make much difference and the work experience option puts them at risk of exploitation.
There are some very small benefits – the income free area will be raised by $150/fortnight for people on JobSeeker and youth allowance and the one-week waiting period to receive welfare will be extended to end June.