Feds Seek to Fix, Rather Than Throw Out, Controversial Unemployment Benefits Changes


Jobs Minister Tony Burke said it was ‘too late’ to scrap controversial changes to unemployment benefits due to be introduced next month, so the government will seek to change the scheme at the place.

From July, the JobActive scheme – which requires people on JobSeeker benefits to apply for 20 jobs a month – will be scrapped.

It will be replaced by a new program called Workforce Australia, which will require job seekers to earn 100 points a month by applying for jobs, interviewing and completing training.

The new curriculum was designed under the Morrison government, and the changes have been criticized by some community advocates for being poorly communicated, leading to “fear and confusion”.

Some fear that the new system will be more difficult to use than the existing system.

Mr Burke told Sky News that although the new scheme is flawed, there is not enough time to stop it from rolling out.

“It’s actually too late not to have a point system at all,” he said.

But he said changes will be needed to ensure the new scheme does not make things worse for job seekers.

“Part of what the government has designed is more punitive than doing the job,” he said.

“We want to make sure – and I’m going to change it over the next week – to make sure we can have a system designed to get people to work, rather than a media stunt to punish people.”

The concept is “correct”, but adjustments are necessary

The government argues that the general concept of the new scheme is good and that the existing JobActive scheme clearly needed to change.

A Labor-dominated Senate committee found in 2019 that the scheme was not ‘fit for purpose’ and that the requirement to apply for 20 jobs a month hindered rather than helped people find work .

Labor supports the idea of ​​”mutual obligations” – that people receiving a jobseeker are required to perform certain tasks continuously to qualify for payments.

Jobs Minister Tony Burke said it was too late to abandon controversial changes to unemployment benefits that were put in place in July. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Mr Burke said the idea of ​​expanding this idea beyond just applying for jobs is a good one.

“Being able to factor in whether someone gets a forklift license, driver’s license, things like that — those are valid things to consider,” he said.

His main criticisms of the new system relate to plans to send automated messages to people warning them they might miss payments and the formula used to award points.

For example, he said it would be unrealistic to expect someone to take a full-time course and apply for jobs at the same time.

“If you’re taking a full-time course, whether it’s an English course or a job-readiness course, it still won’t get you there. [to 100 points],” he said.

The new regime comes into force on July 4, leaving the government only a fortnight to make the changes it deems immediately necessary.

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