Jobs Australia Welcomes Senate Inquiry into ParentsNext - Media Release

Media Release
Wednesday December 5, 2018

Jobs Australia Welcomes Senate Inquiry into ParentsNext

Jobs Australia has welcomed news that the Senate will be conducting an inquiry into the impact of the ParentsNext program on vulnerable parents.

Jobs Australia is the peak body for the NFP employment and community services sector. Our members provide the ParentsNext program at many locations around Australia.

Jobs Australia CEO Debra Cerasa, said “The newly announced Senate Inquiry into ParentsNext is necessary and important. Concerns about ParentsNext have been raised by our members and we are pleased that the Senate has responded.

We hear from our members that current arrangements for ParentsNext are causing harm to vulnerable parents on income support. This requires investigation.”

There are a number of complex interactions of ParentsNext program rules and Jobs Australia believes that the Targeted Compliance Framework (TCF) may be contributing to these harms. For example:

·         The Targeted Compliance Framework introduced mandatory fortnightly income reporting for eligible Parents regardless of whether they were working or not.

·         ParentsNext is targeted in locations where there are high numbers of Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse single parents, and these cohorts can experience higher levels of vulnerability and lower levels of literacy.

·         Parents with children as young as six months must attend appointments with ParentsNext providers and with other activities.

On top of these complexities, Jobs Australia has been informed by members that the implementation of the Targeted Compliance Framework has been beset with a number of system issues including:

·         Delays getting through to customer service lines

·         Default system codes making online reporting mandatory

·         Confusion between employment service agencies and DHS over system accountabilities

The Targeted Compliance Framework was introduced on 1 July 2018 and involved the largest mid-contract re-training exercise in employment services ever. The Targeted Compliance Framework introduced a new system of demerit points that accrue and contribute to the accumulation of a financial penalty for ‘job seekers’ who are willful avoiders of their ‘mutual obligations’. Meanwhile, at the same time, the ParentsNext program was expanded from an original trial base of 10 locations to 51 employment regions, with 30 identified as needing intensive services because of identified risk of long-term welfare dependence.

 

Dr Simone Casey, Policy Analyst from Jobs Australia, said, “Our employment services provider members tell Jobs Australia that this wave of administrative reforms have forced them to redirect efforts to focus on implementing the Targeted Compliance Framework, which, as with any policy reform, has teething problems. It also introduced a controversial system of self-reporting which is one of the most significant exercises in citizen digitisation ever. Concerns about these matters need to be fully examined particularly in light of the extent to which digitisation is expected to be a big part of the future reforms of employment services.”

Jobs Australia discussed these concerns with the Department of Jobs and Small Business in a meeting this morning.

Jobs Australia opposed the application of the financial penalties to single parents in our submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Welfare Reform bill.

We welcome initiatives to provide targeted assistance to people at risk of long-term unemployment and which provide early intervention.

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Contact Information

For further media information contact: Mary Masters, mmasters@ja.com.au, 0400 014 008

Jobs Australia is the national peak body which helps not-for-profit employment and community services all over Australia to provide the best possible assistance to disadvantaged communities and people.