Consultation on the TCF: evidence provided to the jobactive Senate inquiry

With so much interesting evidence being provided to the Senate Inquiry into jobactive it can be difficult to keep up with all the detail. However, we draw attention to new evidence provided to the last public hearing of the inquiry in which DJSB responded to questions about the level of consultation with providers on the TCF.

In the first instance on page 33 Senator Siewert asked the jobactive providers about whether they had been consulted about the design. On pages 41-45 DJSB were asked to explain the consultation process for the TCF. In both cases it is clear that there was not detailed consultation on the design of the TCF. Near the end of the dialogue Senator Sierwert referred to the strain the TCF has been placing on the sector including high level staff turnover. This is important recognition of the imposte and unintended complications of having implemented the TCF mid-way through the jobactive contract. Furthermore, the evidence provided suggests the TCF was not designed in a consultative fashion, and reinforces views already provided to the inquiry that it has created a huge imposte across the breadth of employment services programs.

Siewert asked providers includiing Matchworks, Sarina Russo, the Salvation Army Employment Plus, and Coact who all responded they had not been consulted about the deisgn of the TCF (p.33). Senator SIEWERT comments that this evdience was consistent with everybody else she had asked.

On later pages p.41-45 there was more extensive questioning of DJSB officials about the consultation with peaks and providers on the TCF.  While they identified they had developed understanding of the limitations of the old compliance framwork from feedback with providers they admitted that the detailed design of the TCF had not been subject to detailed consultation. The reason for the lack of consultation was stated as being because it was a budget measure, that could not have been shared prior to the 2017–18 Federal budget. For example, 

Ms Jensen: As I said, in terms of the policy development being within the budget-in-confidence process, we couldn't go out and consult on the specific decision process, as is normal in those processes. However, due to the regular consultation and discussions we'd had for many years around the impact of the previous framework, we were certainly informed by that feedback, including, for example, on issues with the complexity of the previous framwork...

On the question of the imposte caused by the TCF Senator Siewert asked DJSB if they were aware of and taking measures to reduce the high levels of staff turnover reported by jobactive providers in the hearings. As per the dialogue below Siewert outlined concerns about the churn of staff.  DJSB responded to the effect that staffing issues were matters for providers and that they had heard concerns from them about this. Siewert pressed the matter by emphasising the direct effect of the TCF on staffing morale which is a pain point that many in the sector have been reporting.

Senator SIEWERT: is that it's interfering and it's leading to further increasing churn of consultants. We already know we've got a very significant churn; we heard about that again this morning. I've asked providers directly: is it leading to further loss? And some providers are very clearly saying yes. I understand what you were trying to do, but what the consultants and the providers are telling us is that it hasn't done that. So, again, I ask: are you going back to them? I understand you've got the working group, but there's something wrong here if the consultants are seeing a further increase in churn. The consultants are saying, 'We feel like we can't deliver, and, by the way, jobseekers are getting angry with us because we're now the ones being blamed for application of the suspension or the penalty'—in the sense that you were using the word penalty (p. 45)