A. Conduct of the inquiry

A. Conduct of the inquiry

The Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services (the Committee) was established by a resolution of appointment that passed the House of Representatives on 2August2022.[1] The Committee was tasked with a first principles review of the Workforce Australia employment services system.

The Committee was initially to report on or before 29September 2023. On 10May2023, the House of Representatives extended the Committee’s reporting date to 30November 2023.[2]

Consideration of ParentsNext

On 14 September 2022, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, theHonTony Burke MP, requested that the Committee include preemployment and complementary programs within the scope of its inquiry. In particular, the Minister requested that the Committee consider the role of ParentsNext in providing early intervention to parents and carers as part of the employment services system.

Accordingly, the first major component of the Committee’s inquiry was examination of the ParentsNext program.

The Committee tabled its interim report on ParentsNext on 1 March 2023. The report made 30 recommendations. The majority focused on abolishing ParentsNext at the end of its current contract and replacing it with a supportive pre-vocational service. In addition, Committee made several recommendations to be implemented in the short to medium term. These were designed to address urgent concerns with ParentsNext, as well as concerns that could be addressed under existing policy settings.[3]

Following release of the interim report, as a 2023–24 Budget measure the Australian Government announced that it would abolish ParentsNext from 1 July2024 and replace the program with a new voluntary service.[4]

Consideration of Workforce Australia employment services

The Committee called for submissions on Workforce Australia employment services on 6December2022, and specifically invited submissions from advocates and peak bodies, service providers, state and local governments, service participants, policy and academic experts, and other key stakeholders.

The Committee sought evidence on key issues with Workforce Australia, but more importantly requested advice and proposals for policy settings and service models that could optimise employment services in the future.

Submissions were initially requested by 28 February 2023. However, the Committee later extended the deadline for submissions to 17 March2023 to enable it to gather additional evidence, but still accepted submissions beyond this date.

Noting the complexity of employment services and the breadth of the inquiry, the Committee also published guidance material on its website to aid individuals and organisations with their submissions:

  • On 6 December 2022, the Committee published a Submission Guide with material targeted towards advocates, academics, and policy experts. This identified key issues and themes of particular interest or concern to the Committee and set out potential questions to which submitters could respond.
  • On 19 December 2022, the Committee published a guide to sharing lived experience. This provided advice to individuals on sharing views and experiences of the system and recommendations for change.

The Committee identified the following topics as of particular interest in the guidance it provided:

  • The underlying policy objectives for employment services.
  • The architecture and organisational structure of employment services.
  • Responding to local and placebased needs.
  • Targeted service delivery for individuals.
  • Supporting jobseekers into suitable, sustainable jobs.
  • Meeting the needs of employers and demandled approaches.
  • The nature of mutual obligations, activation, compliance, and enforcement.
  • Oversight, regulation, and assurance.
  • Research and evaluation.


The Committee received 321 submissions and 59 supplementary submissions, including answers to questions on notice.[5] The majority related to Workforce Australia. Submissions are listed in Appendix B and are available on the Committee’s website.[6]

The Committee held 14 public hearings, noted below. There was some overlap between early hearings which considered the ParentsNext program and hearings which considered the broader employment services system.

  • Canberra on 3 and 11 November 2022
  • Melbourne on 6 December 2022
  • Sydney on 7 December 2022
  • Melbourne on 18 January 2023
  • Perth on 1 February 2023
  • Melbourne on 14 March 2023
  • Canberra on 17 and 26 May 2023
  • Brisbane on 6 June 2023
  • Canberra on 16 June 2023
  • Canberra on 11 August 2023
  • Canberra on 19 and 20 September 2023.

Witnesses who appeared at the public hearings are listed in Appendix C, with tabled documents and presentation materials used during hearings listed in AppendixB. Transcripts and additional information are also available on the Committee’s website.

Hearings were complemented by private briefings with key stakeholders, to enhance the Committee’s understanding of employment services.

The Committee also held 51 meetings and site visits with employment services providers, social and community services organisations, employers and government agencies around Australia. These were conducted across metropolitan and regional areas, with the aim of ensuring that the inquiry captured a range of views and was able to respond to issues in different labour markets.

  • Sydney and regional New South Wales
  • Melbourne and regional Victoria
  • Brisbane and regional Queensland
  • Adelaide, South Australia
  • Perth and regional Western Australia
  • Hobart and regional Tasmania
  • Darwin, Northern Territory.

An overview of these meetings and site visits is included within Appendix C.

Members of the Committee undertook a delegation visit to France, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Denmark. The delegation included a series of meetings and site visits with government officials, academic and policy experts, and service delivery agencies. These enabled the Committee to explore those countries’ approach to the design and delivery of employment services, and to gain insights to inform proposed reformed to the Australian employment services. People and organisations with whom the Committee engaged as part of the delegation are outlined in Appendix D.


[1]House of Representatives, Votes and Proceedings, No. 5, 2 August 2022, pages 92–93.

[2]House of Representatives, Votes and Proceedings, No. 53, 10 May 2023, p. 678.

[3]See House Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services, Your Future Planning: Interim Report on ParentsNext, February 2023, pages xvii–xxiv.

[4]Commonwealth of Australia (2023), Budget Measures 2023–24: Budget Paper No. 2, p. 106.

[5]This includes four answers to questions on notice which were not published as supplementary submissions (as the relevant witness did not make a submission). These are published under ‘additional documents’ on the Committee’s website.

[6]Submissions relating to the broader inquiry are denoted by the words ‘Workforce Australia’ in the name of the submitter as it appears on the website. A small number of submissions included evidence in relation to both ParentsNext and the broader Workforce Australia employment services system.