Author Archives: Anne Maxwell

Report calls for government to offer jobs not compliance!

Working It Out: Employment Services in Australia is now available! A report investigating job agencies from the point of view of unemployed workers, authored by Per Capita think tank, and the AUWU.

Key Recommendations:

  1. A Government commitment to full employment and the enactment of policies to achieve this
  2. The restoration of some market share of the employment services system to public service delivery
  3. The establishment of an Employment Services Ombudsman
  4. The separation of enforcement of mutual obligations from the provision of employment services, and the restoration of public sector responsibility for the imposition of penalties
  5. The introduction of standardised training for employment services and limits on the maximum caseload size of consultants
  6. An immediate increase in the rate of Newstart by $75 per week
  7. An increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance through indexing it to housing costs
“It’s not hard to work out. Make the system about helping people get work instead of about punishing people.” – Susan, unemployed worker, Melbourne, VIC. July 2018.

Changes effective 20 September 2018

Yes they are confusing!

Read the Department’s own fact sheet here.

To help you interpret what this means for your situation, remember:

  • “annual activity requirement” = things like approved study, or paid work, or voluntary work, or Work for the Dole, and are usually over a period of 6 months
  • “mutual obligations” = things like job searches, appointments with your job provider, and are usually spelled out in your “job plan”

A win for the fight against poverty in Newcastle

Newcastle Anti-Poverty Alliance_Media Release_26.09.18 (1) – PDF version

Wednesday 26 September 2018

A win for the fight against poverty in Newcastle

The Newcastle Anti-Poverty Alliance and the Australian Unemployed Workers Union have been campaigning to increase
the Newstart allowance, and at last night’s Ordinary Council Meeting, Newcastle’s Councillors voted unanimously to
endorse the campaign.

“We know that only federal government can raise Newstart, but local Councils can add their voice to the growing number of
business, welfare, and union groups across Australia that are calling for a raise” Newcastle Anti-Poverty Alliance
coordinator, Mr Chris Parish said.

“This unanimous vote shows that our Council and Councillors understand how difficult it is for unemployed people to
survive today, and acknowledges the significant social and personal harm caused by unemployment, both in Newcastle
and across the nation.”

Newstart is only $273 per week, which is $160 per week below the poverty-line. It has not been raised in real terms for 24
years. “A raise in Newstart would not only be good for the mental and physical health of unemployed people. It would be
good for the local economy, by increasing the spending power of those on the lowest incomes, and good for the local
community, by reducing social isolation and exclusion”, Mr Parish added.
Over the last several months, similar campaigns across the country have resulted in 18 local Councils in South Australia,
Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia passing motions calling for Newstart to be raised. Newcastle City Council is
the first to do so in New South Wales.


Current Unemployment Rates in Australia and Newcastle
• In March 2018 there were 848,600 unemployed recipients of Newstart or Youth Allowance.
• Our national unemployment rate of 5.4% is no longer below the OECD average.
• The greater Newcastle unemployment rate is above state and National averages. With some of the outer suburbs
measuring at a consistent 17% for youth unemployment.
The Newstart Allowance and the Henderson Poverty Line
• The Henderson poverty line is a threshold for measuring a person or families circumstances and relative poverty.
Anyone below the Henderson line is considered to be in poverty.
• The Newstart Allowance sits below the Henderson poverty line, and has not been raised in real terms for over 24 years.
• If you are single and without dependent children, the maximum fortnightly payment you would receive under the
Newstart Allowance is $545.80. This increases to $590.40 per fortnight if you have a child or dependent children. If you
are unemployed and over the age of 60, the maximum fortnightly Newstart allowance is $590.40
• On any objective measure, surviving on $40 a day would be extremely difficult accounting for necessities – food,
clothing and shelter, as well as other living expenses.

• In 2015, a survey of 600 Newstart recipients conducted by the Australian Council of Social Services reported:
– 40% are unable to pay their bills on time or see a dentist.
– 46% are only able to afford second-hand clothes most of the time.
– 50% are unable to raise $2,000 in the event of an emergency.
– 50% are turning off heating and cooling to save money.
– 32% skipped meals in the previous year.
– 25% are suffering from ‘housing crisis’ – spending more than half their income on rent.
– 20% do not have enough money for essentials like housing, food, and electricity.

For further information or interviews, contact Chris Parish on 0402852912 or

The AUWU takes a strong position on jobactive

“The level of abuse inflicted on unemployed workers by the Department’s jobactive system is a national disgrace and must be addressed immediately.”

The AUWU submission about the jobactive contract is now public! Click here to read it.

The 54-page submission which the AUWU made on behalf of unemployed and underemployed workers makes for inspiring reading!

No other organisation is taking such a stand against the institutionalised bullying of unemployed workers. The AUWU not only points out how and why the “employment services” system is broken. In this submission, you can also read about the AUWU’s positive alternative vision for an economy that is inclusive of all.

Have a read of this important document, and you will find out what the AUWU is all about, and why you are not alone when feeling beaten up by your job agency.

So what is this submission for? The Government is in the process of writing the new “jobactive” contract. This is the agreement that governs what happens between unemployed workers and caseworkers at job agencies.

We thank the many AUWU members who made individual submissions during the public consultation phase, and congratulate the AUWU Team on this excellent work!

Stay tuned, and stay united in keeping a close eye on what the government is preparing to dish up to unemployed workers.

Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union: fighting for dignified social security and employment!


Please direct debit from your account to the
BSB: 633 000
The AUWU is Australia’s only national organisation advocating by and for unemployed workers.
We rely entirely on our volunteers, and on contributions from supporters like you.

Make A Difference! Volunteer with the AUWU.

Are you fed up with Government and media bashing the unemployed?

Do you want a future where everyone has a right to dignified employment and social security?

The AUWU needs you!

Meet amazing people and get invaluable experience volunteering at Australia’s only organisation representing unemployed workers.

AUWU volunteers set their own hours, work mostly from home, and are supported by a team of coordinators. Our volunteers find helping unemployed workers deeply rewarding and appreciate being given the chance to learn new skills:

“What I like about volunteering with the AUWU is I get to try out roles I never had the opportunity to do before, plus I know my efforts contribute to making real change in the lives of Australians who are doing it hard”, AUWU member

Start your journey with the AUWU by looking through our list of vacant positions below. Simply click the group you would like to join, read more about the responsibilities of the role, and fill out a short online form to express your interest. An AUWU coordinator will contact you to discuss the roles you are interested in and help you with the training you need.

There are no requirements to volunteer, and all volunteers will be provided with a reference.

Vacant AUWU Positions

  • Advocacy Team
    Help unemployed people who need advice or are in distress. Be a part of the only national service dedicated to empowering people forced to deal with job agencies. Training provided. Positions include:

    • Advocacy Officer
    • Legal Officer
    • Research Officer
  • Campaigns Team
    From strategic planning to direct action, you can make a difference on these important issues. Positions include:

    • Forced Income Management Delegate
    • Job Agency Delegate
    • Newstart Delegate
    • Work for the Dole Delegate
  • Communications Team
    Write a press release, a newspaper article, or a social media post. Design a leaflet or poster. Get creative with memes, slogans, and more! Positions include:

    • Audio Visual Officer
    • Events Officer
    • Graphic Design Officer
    • Inclusion Officer
    • Media Officer
    • Newsletter Officer
    • Outreach Officer
    • Social Media Officer
    • Website Officer
  • Education & Training Team
    Develop and deliver our in-house and public training courses, info sessions, and reading group sessions. Capture and promote the knowledge base unique to the AUWU. Positions include:

    • Education Officer
    • Training Officer
    • Research Officer
  • Administration Team
    Keep the AUWU on track and running smoothly. Correspond with members and allied organisations. Attract and monitor funding. Help out with the day-to-day running of the organisation. Positions include:

    • Finance and Funding Officer
    • Grants Officer
    • Membership Officer
    • Volunteer Coordinator

Look forward to hearing from you!

AUWU Team.