Press Release on Department of Employment Figures

Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union PRESS RELEASE, 07/04/16

PRESIDENT of the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union has responded to the figures put forward by the Department of Employment stating that 276,000 unemployed workers had their welfare payments suspended between 1 July and 30 September 2015.

“What these figures reveal is the epidemic of bullying that is going on within the employment services industry”, said Mr. Bennett

“We have heard countless cases of job agencies using these penalties to bully unemployed workers into activities that only serve to make the job agencies money. In some cases, job agencies financially penalise unemployed workers for failing to attend appointments that they were not even notified about.”

“Job agencies operate under the $6.8 billion jobactive system. These privately job agencies have worked out that the best way to cash in on this government money is to use these penalties to bully people into activities that only serve to make them money. In many cases, this can be much easier for the job agency than actually meeting their obligation to try to find that person a job”

“The lack of regulation by the Department of Employment makes this possible. Knowing there will be no consequences to their actions, many job agencies just do whatever it takes to get their hands on government money.

“The Government’s shameless attempt to twist these figures to suggest that one quarter of unemployed workers are refusing jobs is simply ridiculous.”

“While the Department of Employment have refused to provide the exact breakdown of these statistics, during 2012-2013 period there were only 1718 penalties issued to unemployed workers by Centrelink for refusing to accept work. 1227 of these penalties were waived by Centrelink as the unemployed workers in question were deemed to have valid reasons for rejecting work, such as the work being unsuitable.”

“Unemployed Australians are some of the most vulnerable people in our society and these suggestions by the Government are insulting and play into the wider myth that all unemployed people are lazy and bludgers. The reality is much different.”

Currently, according to the Government’s most recent statistics there are 11 job seekers competing for every job vacancy. The Newstart rate is roughly $380 below the poverty line per fortnight and has not been increased in real terms for 22 years.

“By spinning these figures this way, the Government are trying to pave the way for their current proposal to give job agencies unprecedented powers to financially penalise unemployed workers for a variety of new offences.”

“By proposing that job agencies should be given new unprecedented powers to financially penalize unemployed workers, the Turnbull Government is sending a clear message to the employment services industry that these tactics are not only acceptable, but should be intensified.”


Please find below a response to your enquiry, attributable to a Department of Employment spokesperson.
Between July and September 2015, 276,000 job seekers were subject to an income support payment suspension, with the vast majority of these as a result of non-attendance at an appointment with their jobactive provider.

The compliance framework gives employment services providers the ability to submit compliance reports to seek to re-engage job seekers who have missed appointments or disengaged from participation in activities through suspension of their income support payment.

Importantly, job seekers who attend a re-engagement appointment with their provider after missing the previous appointment will have their payment suspension lifted. (That is, there is no loss of payment for the job seeker which arises as a result of a payment suspension).
Kind regards
Media & Speechwriting | Department of Employment
Media line: (02) 6240 8667 |