Release type: Media Release


More flexible, better targeted employment services

Joint Media Release with The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, Minister For Employment Participation

The Rudd Government will help the most disadvantaged Australians find work through a simpler, more effective, better targeted and modern Employment Services system.

The 2008-09 Budget will provide $3.7 billion over three years to deliver services to help job seekers find suitable employment, drive efficiencies and reduce waste.

The rollout of the new system from July 2009 delivers on the Rudd Government’s election promises to boost Australia's workforce participation, which will help underpin low inflationary growth and give every Australian the opportunity to reach their potential.

The new system will strongly emphasise ‘work readiness’, providing greater skills development, training, work experience and tailored case management. By working more closely with employers we will ensure job seekers are developing the skills in greatest demand.

The reforms will reduce administrative red tape for employment service providers, allowing them to spend more time delivering outcomes for job seekers. Under the Howard Government, the system was characterised by waste and inefficiency – the Rudd Government has been able to find savings of $350 million by streamlining the system.

The Rudd Government wants to boost the nation’s workforce to allow Australia to sustain economic growth and ensure we stay globally competitive.

Reforms to employment services will increase the number of people in Australia’s labour force, helping to alleviate the skills crisis and fight inflation.

Other significant reforms to employment services include:

  • Job seekers to be streamed, with additional assistance being provided to the most disadvantaged;
  • Greater incentives for employment service providers to engage with employers, refer job seekers to apprenticeships, and take up training opportunities under the Government’s skills programs;
  • $41 million over three years to develop innovative projects offering localised solutions in areas of high disadvantage;
  • Retaining Green Corps and Work for the Dole activities for job seekers who have not been able to secure employment after a period of time;
  • A fairer and more effective work-like compliance system based around a ‘no show, no pay’ concept with financial penalties based on the level of participation failure. Eight-week non-payment penalties will be retained for job seekers who are persistently non-compliant; and
  • Replacing the "one size fits all" approach of the old Job Network system with greater flexibility for employment service providers to tailor services for individual job seekers.

The new employment services model is part of the Rudd Government’s plan to increase employment participation including the roll out of up to 630 000 additional training places over five years. Up to 238 000 of these places will be available for people returning to the workforce, including job seekers, at a cost of over $880 million. If providers refer job seekers to this accredited training they will receive a bonus payment for eligible job seekers if they then place them into employment.

The new model followed an extensive consultation process as part of the employment services review with more than 260 submissions received.

The Rudd Government will release a discussion paper on the implementation of the new model in the near future while further public consultations will be held in all capital cities and several regional centres from May 19.

The consultations will play an important role in finalising the design of the new integrated employment service system. A tendering process for contracts beginning on July 1 2009 will start later in the year.

Contracts for the Disability Employment Network and Vocational Rehabilitation Services will be extended until March 2010. This will enable the Government to consider the findings from the National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy in any new disability employment and vocational rehabilitation employment service contracts.