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Work for the dole a matter of obligation

8 August 20141 comment
Copyright: Shutterstock Pixinoo

Copyright: Shutterstock Pixinoo

Almost every job seeker in Australia will be required to work for the dole under planned tough new federal government rules. The government plans to make it mandatory for job seekers aged 18 to 49 to work for their welfare payments from July 1, 2015.

Those aged 18 to 30 will be required to work 25 hours per week while people aged 31 to 49 will have to work 15 hours.  Job seekers will also have to show they have applied for as many as 40 jobs per month.

People over 50 will have the option of participating in the program.

Assistant Employment Minister Luke Hartsuyker said this week the new rules would ensure job seekers are actively looking for work.  “It also allows job seekers to give something back to the tax payers and community that supports them,” Mr Hartsuyker said in a statement.

Currently, ‘work for the dole’ applies to job seekers aged up to 30, who have been out of work for a year, in 18 locations of high unemployment around the country. They have to work 15 hours per week for six months to receive welfare payments.

The move has attracted criticism from some quarters, including the federal opposition and the Australian Greens Party.

While some aspects will come under legislation, it’s understood the new work for the dole rules could still be implemented if the Senate rejects them.

Leading workplace economist Professor Jeff Borland, of Melbourne University – who conducted a study of the Howard government’s work for the dole scheme – says all the research on the schemes show they do not help people find work.

“The international evidence is overwhelming. It’s hard to believe that the government couldn’t understand that this isn’t the best way to improve people’s employability,” he said.

The Australian Greens said there was nothing to prove ‘work for the dole’ was effective. It failed to address barriers to employment such as lack of available jobs and training or discrimination.

“If jobs aren’t available, it is nonsense to say people have to apply for at least a job a day,” Greens family and community spokeswoman Rachel Siewert said in a statement.

But Coalition MP Angus Taylor said this week that the plan was about promoting “mutual obligation”.

“The obligation will be greater for the young ones and will tail off as you get older… the aim is to get people work ready, and have them in a situation where they are building the skills you need to hold down a job,” he said.

“There’s a whole range of things we are looking at. It could be as simple as planting trees or cleaning up river banks.

“We are also expecting people to make a significant effort to look for a job themselves, and that may mean making regular applications,” Mr Taylor said.