The Australian, 16/12/15
Rick Morton, Michael Owen
The government is walking away from its flagship Work for the Dole scheme and will save $127 million by restricting the program and its contingent intensive support to unemployed people under 25.
The money will be recouped over three years from the program that was at one stage due to have 150,000 participants across the country.
Between July and September this year, the vast majority of work-for-the-dole participants were over 25. Estimates data shows there were 21,131 over-30s and 15,148 under-30s. On September 30, there were more than 21,000 people aged over 25 in Work for the Dole.
Work for the Dole was mandatory for those aged up to 60 under the old regime, tied to monthly appointments with the government’s Jobactive service providers , to help them find work.
Under the updated system, those receiving the “intensive” services at June 30 this year will be grandfathered, but new entrants having problems finding work and jobseekers over 25 will use regular Jobactive services.
In the three months from July to September this year, the government spent $64.5m on Work for the Dole, including $12.5m to co-ordinators.
As at June 30, almost 17 per cent of job-support clients who had found work for six months — considered a bonus milestone — were back without work after a further six months. The rate was almost 30 per cent for those with the most significant support requirements.
Work for the Dole was criticised by many in the welfare sector for being ineffective compared with other intensive training options or wage subsidies. About 19 per cent of those participating in Work for the Dole schemes were employed three months later.
Departmental data suggests wage subsidies result in job outcomes of between 47 per cent and 65 per cent after six months.
More money will be given to a national program to help school- leavers into full-time work with the $212m Transition to Work getting a $109.8m boost over four years. The program is for people aged 15-21, including those who are not on income support, to help them overcome barriers to employment and gain skills to get into the workplace.
Lisa Stewart, 29, said without compulsory Work for the Dole she would never have had the opportunity to acquire the skills to find full-time work. Ms Stewart, who left school in NSW in Year 9, ended up in Adelaide at 19 with a limited education, few skills and next to no job prospects.
She is now a fully fledged hospitality employee with the Adelaide Convention Centre and the Tandanya indigenous arts centre’s cafe, after completing a vocational education course in North Adelaide and a Work for the Dole program, where she worked three days a week.
“I’ve had a pretty rough trot throughout my life, but I am determined to better myself and get on the road to success,” she said. “They should not discriminate on how old you are. I only found myself in my mid-20s and the doors started opening through the Work for the Dole program.”