New rules to ensure job seekers are doing all they can to find a job were announced today by the Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker.
The changes will ensure more job seekers attend their appointments with their employment services provider so they receive the support they need to find and keep a job.
"The Australian Government wants to see more job seekers in work, rather than drifting into a life of welfare dependency. It is important job seekers are actively working with their employment services provider to achieve this goal,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
"Job seekers are currently required to attend regular appointments with providers to discuss their progress in finding a job.
"Unfortunately, too many job seekers are failing to meet this requirement. More than 1.2 million appointments were missed in the March quarter of 2014 alone. In over 60 per cent of cases, the provider concluded the job seeker did not have a valid reason for not showing up.
"These figures show that some job seekers are not taking their responsibilities seriously and are abusing the system. This wastes taxpayers’ money and creates more red tape and administration for employment services providers.
"The Australian Government believes that where a job seeker fails to attend an appointment with their provider, without giving prior notice of a valid reason, the job seeker must demonstrate they are genuine in their efforts to look for work in order to continue to receive income support.
"The new rules, which will be phased in over the next six months, will ensure job seekers are actively prompted and supported to re-engage quickly. The changes will minimise the risk of future episodes of non-compliance and financial penalties.”
From 1 July 2014, new streamlined reporting arrangements for providers to the Department of Human Services will ensure that job seekers who fail to attend an appointment will be re-connected with their employment services providers more efficiently.
From 15 September 2014, employment services providers will be able to arrange re-connection appointments directly with job seekers.
From 1 January 2015, if a job seeker does not attend an appointment (without giving prior notice of a valid reason) their income support payment can remain suspended until they actually attend an appointment with their employment services provider.
These new rules will deliver stronger incentives for job seekers to either meet with their employment services providers or give prior notice of their inability to attend an appointment.
Changes are also being introduced to tighten the reasonable excuse rules, to ensure that job seekers are more accountable for meeting their participation requirements.
An excuse will be accepted as reasonable only when the circumstances in question were outside of the job seeker’s control (or exceptional and unforeseen), and directly prevent a person from meeting their requirements.
These changes will ensure that job seekers are doing the right thing and maximise their chances of finding and keeping a job. This will also result in a substantial reduction in red tape and double handling by employment services providers and the Department of Human Services.