Urgent action required on Targeted Compliance Framework in ParentsNext

Jobs Australia has met with Minister for Jobs, Kelly O’Dwyer’s office to outline concerns about the application of the Targeted Compliance Framework (TCF) in ParentsNext and asked for it to be suspended immediately.

The TCF has been identified by many ParentsNext providers as increasing stress and financial difficulty for parents and their young children. It is contributing to negative outcomes for participants' physical and mental health, self-esteem, relationships and engagement with the labour market.

The application of payment suspensions to ParentsNext participants has resulted in unintended outcomes, such as:

  • Rural area clients without smart phones or data being suspended for not reporting if they cannot travel to providers to report.
  • Clients being referred to emergency relief on a Friday to buy food for the weekend because a payment suspension was not being lifted until Monday.
  • A client had payments suspended after she gave birth at 33 weeks pregnant and was rushed to hospital for special care and was unable to report.


Jobs Australia wrote to Minister O’Dwyer and Deputy Secretary Department of Jobs and Small Business (DJSB) Nathan Smyth, representing an alliance of peak agencies and community service organisations who are concerned about the TCF in ParentsNext. 

Jobs Australia proposes that the TCF be suspended from ParentsNext immediately until an effective engagement framework can be developed in consultation with providers, peaks and participant stakeholder groups.
 

Jobs Australia CEO, Debra Cerasa, said, “Jobs Australia met with the Minister’s office on 18 December and requested these concerns be given priority in the run-up to the Christmas break. We are pleased to report they listened to these concerns and gave an undertaking to look at what can be done about them.

"Jobs Australia looks forward to working with our members, the Minister, DJSB and consumer representatives to reduce the harm being caused by the TCF and to develop an effective engagement framework for ParentsNext.”

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For further comment, contact Mary Masters, mmasters@ja.com.au 0400 014 008

 

Background to ParentsNext

The ParentsNext pilots demonstrated some early success in supporting parents who have children under the age of six to plan and prepare for employment by the time their youngest child commences school. Many parents who engage with the ParentsNext program have never had the opportunity to enter the paid workforce or have been out of the paid workforce for a number of years and were eager to prepare for future work.

The Targeted Compliance Framework (TCF) is proving to be an inappropriate mechanism for this pre-employment program as it has forced a punitive rather than an empowering approach. The implementation of the TCF from the 1st of July has made it increasingly difficult to meet ParentsNext program objectives with a focus on reporting requirements replacing intended supports. Jobs Australia members’ experience tells us that motivating clients is more effective than penalising them. The TCF also faced technical issues in the implementation phase.

Providers have participated in ParentsNext in good faith understanding that it was a program that was intended to prepare parents for the paid workforce before their children reach school age, but every day more issues arise that impede our ability to support parents. Parents are being needlessly exposed to stress and financial difficulty. An empowering approach that motivates participants will be more effective in preparing parents for the workforce than penalising them.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly women and children, are disproportionately impacted by social security compliance measures. Those who are experiencing, or are survivors of, family violence already face significant financial stress and other multiple and complex socioeconomic issues.  ParentsNext is intended to provide supports, not to make the lives of disadvantaged people even more difficult.