Chapter 5 - Supporting jobseekers and employers

  1. Supporting jobseekers and employers

This chapter outlines the key services that should be provided within a rebuilt Commonwealth Employment Services System to support jobseekers and employers.

As noted in Chapter 2, despite its goal to deliver tailored services the current system largely takes a onesize-fits-all approach which does not account for the many and varied differences between individuals nor the need for wrap-support across the human services ecosystem.

Profiling and services for jobseekers need to recognise that people are at different points on their pathway to employment and will progress to work at different speeds depending on the extent of their vocational and non-vocational barriers. The system must also acknowledge that employment will not be a realistic outcome for some participants at a particular time, and for a small minority of people will never be a realistic outcome. Current profiling that classifies jobseekers based on their risk of long-term unemployment does not provide sufficient recognition of capability and needs.

The service model for jobseekers under a rebuilt Commonwealth Employment Services System should be based on tailored pathways to employment reflecting clients’ distance from the labour market and individual barriers and aspirations. Policy and program design needs to ensure that mainstream services are adaptable to the needs of discrete cohorts, including access to specialist support services where required.

Clients closest to the labour market who can self-manage their job search or who need relatively limited assistance should be supported and overseen by the new Employment Services Australia (ESA) under a hybrid servicing approach that encompasses existing online services as well as face-to-face supports. This is to optimise services for clients, employers, and other stakeholders. Other clients would be referred to the appropriate form of case management in a network of service partners, including ‘Job Coaches’. Clients may access employment, preemployment, pre-vocational or non-vocational supports from these partners, in accordance with their current capacity and aspirations. Case management services would also be complemented by bespoke local programs and social enterprises.

Job Coaches would be able to refer jobseekers to other services, as this is critical to a wrap-around service model for clients with higher needs. An enduring view of the service ecosystem in each region would be maintained by ESA and made available to all partners and services, as required.

A broader range of options for people with limited capacity for employment is required, such as services focused on wellbeing and social participation rather than employment. Clients who access these services may be better managed by ESA via regional hubs than supported by external partners.

Within a rebuilt Commonwealth Employment Services System, adaptions to service design and commissioning arrangements will also be required to ensure that the case management approach is appropriate for all cohorts.

Within the network of delivery partners, the Committee envisages a model under which there is one generalist Job Coach service partner in each area, as well as specialist Job Coach service partners engaged to support particular cohorts. This should include:

  • An ex-offender specialist in regions with a prison in order to deliver integrated pre-release, on-release, and post-release support. This service should be underpinned by a robust intergovernmental agreement to enable organisations which delivers the service to enter prisons and deliver support, noting that existing providers who support ex-offenders are often hamstrung by State- and Commonwealth-level bureaucracy.
  • A culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) specialist in each region with high CALD caseloads, or one specialist operating across multiple regions where there are lower CALD caseloads. There may be a need to procure case management on a more flexible basis depending on viability in some regions. CALD specialist services could be supported via competitive ‘reverse auction’ grants to determine the efficient price for outcomes as Jobs Victoria has done or could be procured as a specialist provider.
  • An Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) to provide services to First Nations jobseekers in regions with a high First Nations population, noting that ACCOs are proven to deliver better results on average for this cohort. ACCOs may need to be supported via co-delivery or additional financial backing, as is already the case in Yarrabah and Broome.
  • A specialist for people with disability, modelled on the current Disability Employment Services (DES) program.

Evidence also supports a youth specific service for all jobseekers under 25 years. This Youth Employment Service would incorporate the existing Transition to Work (TtW) program as a service for clients with higher support needs, as well as support options for young people who are currently excluded from TtW or who do not need that level of support. There would be one youth specialist in each area. Similar to the ‘mainstream’ service, services for youth would vary in intensity according to the needs of the client and provide for wrap-around support as necessary.

Under a rebuilt Commonwealth Employment Services System, services for employers should also be expanded. The system should include supports which enable employers to access a pool of talent via a single point of contact and create partnerships—for example with the education and training sector and with individual employers—that ensure jobseekers possess skills and qualifications aligned with industry need. There are also opportunities to provide other value add services to business, including more general advice on labour market conditions and recruitment practices.

Profiling of jobseekers

5.1Statistical profiling of jobseekers has been a feature of the Australian employment services system since the early 1990s. Jobseekers are classified based on their risk of becoming long-term unemployed (LTU).[1] Profiling is also a key feature of labour market programs in other jurisdictions, with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) noting that efficient and effective service delivery involves profiling and grouping jobseekers based on their needs.[2]

5.2Stakeholders indicated that jobseekers should be categorised by their distance from the labour market rather than grouped by cohort as occurs under the current service model.[3] For example, the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) stated:

The division of services by cohort is often arbitrary, or at best inconsistent, failing to recognise the intersectional nature of disadvantage and identity, and denying access to effective programs for some who might benefit … [T]he employment service system [also] fails to take a coherent life-stage approach that recognises the challenges and opportunities that people navigate at key transition points.[4]

5.3Stakeholders also observed that no model will ever fully capture the diversity of the employment services caseload and cautioned against creating too many or two few categories or service streams.[5] Professor Jeff Borland asserted that a system with too many categories risks making funding arrangements complex and increases the likelihood of misclassification, while systems with too few will fail to recognise the diversity of jobseekers and may lead to providers focusing on jobseekers who are easiest to support (’creaming’) while neglecting the needs of (‘parking’) others.[6]

5.4Effective profiling will also rely on a reliable and accurate assessment framework.[7] The Institute of Employability Professionals (IEP) stated that accurate assessment ensures jobseekers receive the supports they need and limits over-servicing.[8] The National Employment Services Association (NESA) emphasised that the failure to recognise jobseekers’ personal circumstances, service needs, job readiness and capacity to participate in the labour market contributes to poor outcomes for individual jobseekers, reduced program effectiveness, and higher longterm costs.[9]

5.5The importance of reliable, person-centred assessment is discussed in Chapter 9.

Continuum of services

5.6Two core principles have underpinned employment services since significant outsourcing commenced in 1996: that support should be tailored to the needs and capabilities of jobseekers; and that support should be delivered through a range of mechanisms.[10] Stakeholders indicated that the current system does not adequately reflect those principles, and is characterised by policy and program silos across multiple levels of government and service fragmentation that prevents the system from responding to the interconnected factors that impact a person’s social and economic participation.[11]

5.7As noted in Chapter 4, several stakeholders called for a single, national employment services system. Stakeholders also asserted that services within the system should be differentiated by labour market attachment and intensity of support and must ensure that people’s needs and circumstances are addressed via tailored, person-centred practice.[12] For example, NESA noted that jobseekers need different supports depending on their distance from the labour market—irrespective of whether these supports are delivered through complementary programs or within one mainstream system.[13] Professor Borland observed that both work first and capacity-building approaches may be appropriate depending on the individual’s circumstances and their pathway to employment.[14]

5.8Some stakeholders made detailed proposals for an employment services system of this type. For example, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) proposed that there be five key services:

  • An online service.
  • An ‘improved’ core provider service.
  • A professional career counselling and support service.
  • Specialised local partnership services for people facing entrenched disadvantage.
  • Complementary programs to help people overcome their barriers to employment including work experience and training programs.[15]
    1. According to ACOSS, this model would be sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of diverse cohorts without being unduly complex or inefficient. In addition, jobseekers would be able to move between services, and access multiple services, according to their circumstances and needs.[16]
    2. The BSL, Centre for Policy Development (CPD), and the University of Melbourne (UniMelb) proposed a system that includes a flexible ‘mainstream’ program for working age adults, as well as a youth specialist program. Services would be divided according to intensity and adjusted over time depending on a jobseeker’s needs and aspirations. The proposal included the following key design elements:
  • Two cohorts: young people and adults of working age.
  • Three levels of intensity within employment services:
    • Optimised digital servicing, focused on supporting people to engage with local networks rather than solely on job matching.
    • Low intensity face-to-face support, including support with issues such as debt relief and licenses and a focus on employment guidance and job matching.
    • High intensity face-to-face supports for individuals needing to build their employability through skills and training to enter or reenter the labour market, recognising that some jobseekers face multiple barriers. Within this stream, there would be a strong focus on building trust and rapport.
  • Capability pathways for people for whom employment may not be the first priority, and who would benefit from participation in social, health, and wellbeing services.
  • All pathways are underpinned by vocational and pre-employment education and support that tailored to labour market needs.[17]
    1. This model would involve different blends or packages of support within each service, capacity for participants to move between services depending on needs at points in time, and variations in support according to individual circumstances. For example, parents returning to the workforce might benefit from a mix of supports that responds to caring responsibilities and focuses on moving toward employment, while people with experience of the justice system may benefit from a mix of education and training, employment, and community participation.[18] An outline of the service model is at Figure 5.1 below.

Figure 5.1Example service model: Spectrum of supports within flexible packages

Source: BSL, CPD, and UniMelb, Submission 256.1, p. 12.

5.12The spectrum of supports outlined in Figure 5.1 is broadly consistent with the Danish approach to supporting clients. During its European delegation, the Committee heard that in Denmark clients are categorised into service levels according to their needs and circumstances (see the ‘Participation Ladder’ discussed in Chapter 3). Services then focus on moving participants into less intensive services over time as they make progress towards employment.

5.13Jobs Australia proposed a model comprising online service delivery and the following three ‘tiers’ of provider-led support:

  • An employment preparation tier, where barriers are addressed, quality training and effective tools are acquired by participants, and mutual obligation is targeted to attending appointments and support sessions but not to job seeking.
  • An employment service tier, including more intensive and assisted job searches, employment programs and employment-focused activities. Mutual obligations would be similar to current arrangements.
  • An ongoing support tier post-job placement, to ensure new employees are able to adapt to the work environment. This would be supported by changes to income support taper rates to ensure new workers are not left without financial support.[19]
    1. Stakeholders also emphasised that jobseekers must be able to access a tailored mix of vocational and non-vocational supports via a holistic, wrap-around service model.[20] Some stakeholders indicated that certain features would exist irrespective of the tier or stream to which a jobseeker is allocated. For example, all participants might have access to employment, personal development supports, career advice, mentoring, networking, advice on rights and responsibilities in the workplace, skills development, and access to education and training. All people registered for income support would have access to the Employment Fund (EF) for work-related goods and services.[21]
    2. Public employment services in several international jurisdictions offer tailored and individualised support. During its European delegation the Committee heard that the Estonian public employment service allows case managers to draw upon a range of services, include career services, job coaching, access to training and education, and counselling. Case managers are supported by data-driven support tools that help determine the right mix of services based on the person’s probability of finding work. The Estonian employment service also supports those who are employed, including addressing risks of becoming unemployed and enabling career progression.
    3. Another common theme was that services must take a people- or client-centred approach that builds upon skills and personal strengths rather than focusing on the deficits of the jobseeker.[22]
    4. Services for jobseekers with different capacity to participate in the labour market and different pathways to employment are discussed below. Also discussed are supports for jobseekers in specific cohorts, and how these would operate within a system that is differentiated by intensity. Further detail on operationalising a new employment services model is included throughout Chapters 6 to 15.

Support for participants with an employment-focused pathway

5.18Stakeholders indicated that jobseekers who are closest to the labour market require limited assistance to maintain capability and motivation. For many members of this cohort, self-management through online services may be appropriate. Others may benefit from support targeting their job search efforts, access to education and training opportunities, services which broker job opportunities with employers, and post-placement support and mentoring.[23]

5.19Evidence received during this inquiry aligns with findings of the Employment White Paper that an employment-focused approach for those closer to the labour market has the benefit of minimising risks of labour market scarring.[24]

Online or digital employment assistance

5.20Several stakeholders supported retaining online employment assistance, noting that not every jobseeker requires face-to-face support, that many jobseekers prefer self-management, and that online servicing is often the most appropriate approach for those who are able to satisfy their mutual obligation requirements with parttime work. Stakeholders also observed that online services can broaden the geographic reach of employment support.[25]

5.21Other stakeholders supported a hybrid service model incorporating both digital and face-to-face supports.[26] International experience observed and examined by the Committee indicates an increasing shift towards supporting jobseekers closer to the labour market via online services delivered by the public sector with some face-to-face service options either by a public or contracted provider.

5.22Despite support for online services, the evidence also raised a range of concerns regarding the current service. For example, data on Workforce Australia Online indicates that less than half of those who commenced and exited digital services in 2022–23 did so for work-related reasons.[27] Stakeholders identified several issues with the current online service, including insufficient engagement with participants in that program, the ‘default’ length of time for which a jobseeker remains in online services, and challenges moving between online and provider-led services.

5.23Issues with the current online service and proposals for improvement—including the adoption of a hybrid approach—are discussed in more detail in Chapter10.

Provider-led employment assistance

5.24The Committee heard that provider-led services are appropriate for some jobseekers with fewer barriers to employment, including those who have expressed a preference to be supported by a provider rather than to self-manage online. This cohort may benefit from low intensity assistance within a case management model focused on brokering employment opportunities. Jobseekers with an interest in or an aptitude for a specific industry or field may also benefit from being directly connected with training or employment opportunities.[28]

5.25Evidence also indicated that online services will not be suitable for everyone who is considered close to the labour market.[29] For example, DEWR observed that during the New Employment Services Trial (NEST), certain cohorts such as older people, those with lower levels of English proficiency, First Nations peoples, people with disability, and those who have difficulty navigating labour markets are less likely to benefit from an ‘online only’ service approach. This is notwithstanding that at least some members of these cohorts could reasonably be considered ‘job ready’.[30]

Support for participants with a pathway focused on building human capital

5.26Stakeholders proposed a range of services and supports for those who need greater support to gain employment. These varied in type and intensity depending on the jobseeker’s needs and personal circumstances. Examples included:

  • interventions to ensure jobseekers remain confident in their own abilities and motivated to continue searching for work;[31]
  • pre-vocational support to identify educational and employment goals;[32]
  • preemployment support to increase employability and job-specific skills;[33]
  • support to consider self-employment or entrepreneurship;[34]
  • opportunities to access work opportunities coupled with training;[35]
  • opportunities to connect with employers;[36]
  • help with structural barriers like obtaining a driver’s licence and digital literacy;[37]
  • ongoing monitoring and support once in employment;[38] and
  • referrals to other resources within the human services ecosystem.[39]
    1. These broadly reflect the findings of the Employment White Paper, which highlighted the role of employment services in building capability and broadening opportunities for jobseekers through work experience and training opportunities. Another finding of the Employment White Paper was that investment in people and the development of skills delivers better labour market outcomes in the long term.[40]
    2. Stakeholders also supported a ‘stepping-stone’ approach which enables jobseekers to build confidence and capability during the transition to employment. This would involve integrating all supports for jobseekers into a single model that recognises and responds to a variety of pathways to social and economic participation.[41]
    3. A key theme in evidence was the role employment services could play in building and maintaining jobseeker motivation and confidence (which influences job success). Several providers noted that a service approach that allows for positive collaboration between frontline staff and jobseekers, greater tailoring of services to an individual, and better recognition of jobseekers’ engagement, should help to harness, build, and maintain the intrinsic motivation of jobseekers.[42] For some people, supports may initially focus on confidence, resilience and motivations as a way to build capacity.[43]
    4. The Committee heard that jobseekers who are a ‘medium distance’ from employment would benefit from a strengths-based case management model which seeks to build capacity and skills aligned to the jobseekers’ abilities and interests.[44] Meanwhile, jobseekers further from the labour market—including those who are LTU—would benefit from intensive case management by skilled consultants which takes a holistic approach to addressing multifaceted and intersectional barriers.[45]
    5. Stakeholders further argued that many cohorts would benefit from a trauma-informed response and environments, structures and processes that facilitate trust and connection.[46] The experiences shared with the Committee by LTU jobseekers suggested that a significant number have experienced trauma or have been scarred by extended periods of social isolation, economic insecurity, and disconnection from the labour market. In some cases, particularly though not exclusively among First Nations communities, intergenerational trauma issues also need to be addressed.[47]
    6. CoAct asserted that local and community-based organisations must be enabled to participate in the employment services system to provide effective pre-employment and wrap-around support for disadvantaged jobseekers.[48] South-East Community Links (SECL) stated that rebuilding trust requires place-based organisations who understand community needs—highlighting the Community Employment Connectors program as an example of a successful place-based initiative.[49] Other stakeholders asserted that larger organisations should be enabled and encouraged to collaborate with smaller organisations. Larger organisations could provide support and resources to help other local organisations connect with the system and scale their services.[50] Professor Green et al stated:

While it is possible to imagine ways in which grass-roots organisations could be brought to work together in a scalable manner, a more sustainable option is to work as partners with such organisations to refine hopes and expectations within the context of a [revised] workforce strategy and then ask the organisations themselves to suggest pathways to scale.[51]

5.33The Committee heard about, and had the opportunity to visit, multiple examples of smaller organisations delivering programs outside of the Commonwealth system which appeared to be of more benefit to jobseekers who needed assistance on their pathway to suitable employment. Examples (some of which are outlined in the Committee’s interim report and in Chapter 3 of this report), included:

  • delivery of Jobs Victoria services by local community organisations, with targeted supports for jobseekers with challenges finding employment in order to boost their participation levels and link them to meaningful employment;[52]
  • the Tasmanian Government’s network of Regional Jobs Hubs, which function as a neutral jobs broker in their local region and focus on job-matching services that deliver long-term employment outcomes;[53]
  • the BSL’s Sustaining Economic Empowerment and Dignity (SEED) and SteppingStones projects, focused on empowering women to achieve economic security through education and employment;[54]
  • WomenCAN’s Placement Circle model, a which focuses on women living in disadvantage. The program offers community outreach to identify women who have a desire to reengage with the workforce; a peer support framework including regular discussions and study sessions; place-based vocational training with partner TAFE providers; and skills-relevant work placements;[55]
  • the Thrive Refugee Enterprise, which is dedicated to assisting refugees and people seeking asylum to start and grow their own businesses—responding to a perceived gap in eligibility for the S-EA program;[56]
  • Work Integrated Social Enterprises (WISEs) that are participating in a pilot run by the Department of Social Services (DSS) that looks at the effectiveness of WISEs in securing long-term employment outcomes for disadvantaged jobseekers;[57]
  • social enterprise cafes that provide hospitality training and employment opportunities to individuals who face barriers to entering the workforce; and
  • labour hire firms operating as not-for-profit or social enterprises.[58]

Pre-vocational support

5.34Stakeholders indicated that some unemployed people (who may not be appropriately classified as ‘jobseekers’) may benefit from pre-vocational support, with a focus on rediscovering strengths and skills and increasing confidence.[59]

5.35Pre-vocational support was also discussed during the Committee’s examination of the ParentsNext program. The Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC) noted that prevocational support involves ‘taking a step back from preemployment’ to focus on a client’s circumstances and individual needs.[60]

5.36Yilabara Solutions proposed a work preparation phase that aligns with the concept of pre-vocational support, and which would involve participants undertaking activities such as vocational profiling, self-esteem building, and goal setting over the first few months with a provider. This would help to build a rapport between provider and participant and result in a practical understanding of the participant’s needs.[61]

5.37VERTO referred to a ‘non-vocational’ phase that would focus on providing support to jobseekers with multiple barriers to employment prior to delivering pre-employment or employment assistance. Those who have been ‘stuck in the system’—becoming very-LTU—may also be given the option to receive this form of support.[62]

5.38Bounce Global noted that the current employment services system is often focused on using compliance and punitive measures to compel clients to find work, stating that these measures are largely ineffective—particularly when attempting to support clients living with disadvantage. According to Bounce Global, the two pressing issues in the employment services sector are that people experiencing multiple barriers to employment require significant support, and that frontline workers lack the specific skills, knowledge, and energy to connect with their clients, build trust, and help them to create autonomy and self-efficacy to set achievable goals.[63]

5.39Bounce Global proposed the adoption of a Hope Activation Framework within the employment services system, focused on supporting the wellbeing of both clients and frontline workers and giving both parties more autonomy and agency, and on staff working with clients within a strengths-based frame to change clients’ self-perception and encourage to develop goals and aspirations. Bounce Global made the following recommendations to underpin such as framework:

  • Implement a 'relationship first’ approach to service delivery by providing frontline staff and managers with the appropriate skills and knowledge to support their clients. By reducing the administrative load and focusing less on compliance, frontline staff will have more time to build relationships that get better outcomes.
  • Introduce a measure of wellbeing into the employment services system and provide LTU people with the tools and resources they need to make positive changes and move towards their goals. Providers and staff should be rewarded for helping clients improve their wellbeing.
  • Incorporate a wellbeing-to-work approach into employment services. Providers should support their clients to increase their social, emotional, and physical wellbeing before focusing on achieving employment outcomes.
  • Trial the efficacy of a wellbeing approach for both staff and clients using evidence-based training and professional development strategies. Employ proven wellbeing and hope intervention approaches alongside measures of subjective wellbeing, satisfaction with life, and job satisfaction to contribute to longitudinal data around staff, client, and social outcomes.[64]

Pre-employment assistance

5.40The Committee heard that preemployment assistance has an important function in addressing barriers to labour force participation before an individual begins applying for work. Pre-employment assistance gives a jobseeker access to activities and programs that build confidence and motivation; equips the jobseeker with core foundational, employability and technical skills; and assists participants to upskill and reskill. It can also help build aspirations to engage in and return to work.[65]

5.41Stakeholders emphasised that providers should be enabled to design tailored pre-employment assistance which responds to local workforce need and aligns with and provides access to training opportunities.[66]

5.42DEWR noted that providers are expected to assist participants to improve foundation and employability skills. This may include referral to complementary programs such as Employability Skills Training (EST) and Career Transition Assistance (CTA).[67]

5.43Stakeholders highlighted examples of successful public and non-government preemployment programs. For example, the Queensland Government observed that the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program increased participants’ likelihood of finding employment by 21 percentage points.[68]

Work experience

5.44As outlined in Chapter 1, common barriers to securing work for unemployed people include gaps in the person’s employment history and lack of work experience.[69] A lack of local work experience is also a key barrier to employment for migrant and refugee jobseekers.

5.45Work experience, volunteering, and programs that help link jobseekers to paid job opportunities (for example, apprenticeships, traineeships, and social procurement for major projects) are learning opportunities that enable the jobseeker to demonstrate their value in a work setting. This in turn can reduce perceived risks to the employer of engaging a candidate via employment services.[70]

5.46Stakeholders also noted that for some jobseekers, career pathways involve taking on temporary or part-time jobs to gain experience or use as a ‘stepping-stone’ to longer-term employment.[71] Other jobseekers may prefer or need to quickly gain employment to meet immediate needs and goals.[72]

5.47The employment services system must also respond to changing labour markets, noting that modern markets increasingly feature part-time and casual positions, non-traditional or flexible work arrangements, and roles in the ‘gig’ economy. The Committee heard that temporary and flexible work arrangements may be appropriate for jobseekers who are unable to commit to regular, full-time work, and often reflect jobseekers’ preferences.[73]

5.48Stakeholders also argued against assuming that the only appropriate or ‘secure’ work is full-time, ongoing and involves direct engagement by an employer. For example, the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) asserted that it must be the individual who defines ‘secure’ and ‘insecure’ employment, and that there should be no move to restrict access to a jobs or employment pathways on the basis that they does not reflect bureaucratic definitions of ‘secure’ employment.[74]

5.49The Committee heard that placements into shorter-term jobs—and jobs that do not align with jobseekers’ aspirations—may be appropriate as a means of gaining work experience, developing skills, and building confidence. These jobs can act as ‘steppingstones’ to sustainable, career-driven employment opportunities.[75] In this regard, The Salvation Army Employment Plus (SAEP) advocated an approach that:

  • enables jobseekers to find work which allows them to acquire experience and confidence before applying for jobs which align with their goals, noting temporary jobs may also be a source of income while a jobseeker develops other skills;
  • offers the jobseeker the opportunity to develop and build on transferable skills, such as communication, dependability, teamwork, and technology skills, which are highly valued by employers; and
  • enables jobseekers to apply for other positions while in a job, noting that holding current employment is often seen as a positive by employers even where the job is in an unrelated field.[76]
    1. During site visits, clients in employment services and other human services indicated that short-term or less desirable jobs can be appropriate, so long as they form part of a longer-term strategy to build a client’s competencies and move them towards meaningful work in the future. One client made the poignant observation that ‘it’s easier to start with the horrible little job you can do if that’s part of getting on your way to what you really want to do and they [the provider] keep helping you’.
    2. ACOSS stated that providers are often reluctant to risk their own resources investing in work experience and training for people who are detached from the labour market. Accordingly, there is a need for complementary programs which provide training and work experience, and for these programs to be expanded so they are more widely available. ACOSS drew attention to wage subsidies and the Launch into Work program as examples of initiatives the government should continue to support.[77]
    3. Evidence also indicated that there is significant value in ‘place and train’ models of support which connect individuals with employers who are willing to provide a work opportunity that includes on-the-job training and support.[78] Some stakeholders also noted that self-employment may be a pathway to employment on the open market—in creating their own job, individuals build many transferrable skills that increase their chances of later finding work with an employer.[79]
    4. Work experience is discussed in further detail in Chapter11.

In-employment assistance

5.54Stakeholders indicated that support for jobseekers should not end once they are in employment, and that effective support for businesses and employees can be critical to ensuring that a new employee can adapt to a role, remain in the role over the long term, and progress in their career.[80] As noted in Chapter 4, assisting employers—and particularly small businesses—with creating inclusive workplaces and developing strategies to support cohorts of workers with higher needs can also help to create opportunities for more disadvantaged jobseekers.

5.55Post-placement support is considered a core service within Workforce Australia and is funded through the existing outcome-based payment model.[81] Workforce Australia Services and Transition to Work (TtW) providers receive 4-, 12-, and 26-week outcome payments. Several providers indicated they had staff dedicated to providing post-placement support.[82] Some also noted improvements that could be made to ensure post-placement support for jobseekers. This is explored in Chapter 11.

5.56During site visits and the Committee’s European delegation, stakeholders asserted that best practice in the context of post-placement support is to offer mentoring to the business and worker for up to 12 months after a job placement, to maximise the chance of a sustainable employment outcome.

5.57Dr Ann Neville and Jobs Australia both indicated that there would be merit in the ‘mainstream’ employment services system adopting the model of support used in Disability Employment Services (DES).[83] DESproviders may deliver post-placement support for up to 12 months. The program recognises (and funds) 4-, 13-, 26-, and 52-week outcomes, and there is a formalised process for identifying the need for and delivering support to ensure a participant is able adapt to a new work environment.[84] The National Youth Commission Australia (NYCA) stated that the Sustainability Outcome Payment available under TtW should be extended from 26 weeks to 52 weeks.[85]

5.58Evidence presented to the Committee and discussions during site visits highlighted the importance of longer-term or more extensive support for particular cohorts of jobseekers. SYC noted the critical role of post-placement support—including tailored workplace mentoring—to achieving sustainable outcomes for LTU jobseekers, First Nations peoples, people with disability, and people with episodic mental health issues.[86] The Coalition of Peaks noted that work must be done with employers to breakdown stereotypes impacting First Nations peoples and to ensure workplaces are adapted to the needs and working arrangements of First Nations employees. The Coalition of Peaks noted that peer networks have enjoyed considerable success in this regard.[87] Multicultural Australia and HOST International (HOST) both noted the role that post-placement support can have in addressing cultural issues that may arise for refuges and migrants, as well as its role in reducing the risk of worker right violations amongst those with limited awareness or familiarly with Australian systems and laws.[88] Other stakeholders that observed young people and employers benefit from post-placement support that troubleshoots issues and creates an environment that will see both parties benefit in the long term.[89]

5.59The Committee also heard that in-work support should be scaled to enable better career planning and progression—particularly for employees in entry-level, lower-skilled, and precarious jobs.[90] This is explored in more detail in Chapters 11 and 12.

Wrap-around support

5.60Some jobseekers require employment assistance that is integrated with other social and health supports such as allied health services, drug and alcohol counselling, and education and training providers.[91]

5.61Stakeholders asserted that co-locating employment services with or embedding them in other human services can be critical to fostering genuinely person-centred case management.[92]For example, MatchWorks observed:

[A] a ‘one stop shop’ enable[s] the most disadvantaged participants to benefit from collaboration. We see greater engagement in interventions and reduced fear, particularly by priority cohorts, through the provision of joined up services delivered in a familiar setting. On site services also aid participants to build stronger relationships … [with employment consultants]. This fosters improved disclosure and information sharing … resulting in better and quality progression for participants with supports occurring in real time where required.[93]

5.62The Committee heard that that wrap-around servicing does not necessarily require that services be collocated, provided there is a coordinating entity with strong links to other services.[94] However, some stakeholders also expressed a view that collocated (hub-based) services are likely to deliver better outcomes.[95] SAEP observed that there is a clear difference between referring a jobseeker to an external service and physically introducing them to an embedded one, noting that the latter often involves a personal introduction from which a relationship can be built.[96]

5.63The Committee also heard that under the current model there are issues in referring participants to external services, particularly where a provider cannot reliably predict that a referral will result in an employment outcome.[97] The Getting Welfare to Work Research Team stated:

While addressing non-vocational barriers such as homelessness, poor mental health, and drug addiction promotes employability and leads to positive individual outcomes in the long-run, employment services providers only receive payments for employment and educational outcomes. Accordingly, there are few incentives for providers to invest time or money to address complex non-vocational barriers beyond referring clients to external support services that are funded by local or state governments.[98]

5.64Stakeholders also noted that hub-based models may be of greater value to certain cohorts. Youth Projects asserted that these models are critical to supporting younger jobseekers, and particularly who are facing challenges such as poor mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness.[99]

5.65The Antipoverty Centre were among those that felt employment services should not be part of a one-stop-shop. Instead, they advocated for jobseekers to be given information about what is available, freedom to choose what they need, and access to community-controlled organisations and cooperatives that provide services.[100]

Support for participants with a pathway which builds social capacity

5.66Evidence confirmed that there are a proportion of individuals on the caseload who face a range of interrelated vocational and non-vocational barriers to employment and for whom employment is unlikely to be appropriate—at least in the short to medium term.[101] There are also individuals for whom work may never be a realistic prospect.[102]

5.67Anecdotal evidence suggests that the proportion of people from whom work is not a realistic prospect—at least in the near future—is anywhere from 10 to 15 per cent of the overall caseload, with the reasons for this including disability, sickness or mental illness, major personal crisis, and medically diagnosed substance abuse disorders. Under the current model, some in this cohort may be exempt from participating in employment services.[103] Using the number with a temporary exemption as a proxy, around 11.8per cent of the Workforce Australia caseload may not be able to benefit from employment services at any specific point in time.[104] Evidence from providers indicated that the proportion of the caseload who would be better assisted through alternative services ranges from 10 to over 20 per cent.[105]

5.68Evidence indicated that this cohort would benefit from referrals to other human services, community work and social enterprises (instead of referral to employment services), as well as an underlying approach to support which focuses on social rather than economic participation. There was also recognition of the importance of a strength-based support approach with realistic goals and timeframes.[106] This was reflected in discussions during the Committee’s European delegation. For example, the Committee heard that services in the Netherlands take a ‘life first’ approach to supporting jobseekers further from the labour market, focused on overcoming non-vocational barriers such as addiction before considering employment.

5.69The Committee also heard that the French public employment service delivers a ‘re-mobilisation’ package to LTU and very-LTU people. This includes an intensive assessment progress and a package of supports tailored to the client’s needs. Providers of the service also work with employers to help them tailor vacancies to clients. Supporting clients in this program requires a significant investment. However, there is a substantial return on investment if and when clients move into work.

5.70The Antipoverty Centre explained that support should be offered to ensure that this cohort can access resources and develop a longer-term plan which helps the individual become ready, willing, and able to enter work.[107] Activities or services that build up capacity and utility to work in the future that could be part of social participation pathways are explored more in Chapters 11 and 13.

5.71Discussions with stakeholders raised questions as to whether DEWR—as a hybrid provider—would be better placed to approve Participation and Jobs Plans and case manage people whose goals are social participation or community work (and who require less intensive case management). This would leave provider-led services to focus on preparing and supporting people with realistic prospects of employment to secure work. ACOSS suggested a lead agency should be appointed to oversee case management for jobseekers with a social participation pathway,[108] while the CPD told the Committee that there are a range of different ways to support this cohort, noting that effective support should commence with regional gateways undertaking initial assessment and referral.[109] This is explored in more detail in Chapters 9 and 14.

5.72Academic and policy research indicated that Intermediate Labour Markets (ILMs) may also be harnessed to support clients who are further from the labour market. ILMs are typically (though not always) small businesses with a focus on helping the most disadvantaged clients—often by offering employment in a workplace for up to 12 months. This provides the client with a wage, close supervision, guidance, and support.[110] The job may offer a combination of accredited training and development of workplace skills, improving the client’s general employability via practical on-the-job experience. Also provided are job search assistance and ongoing support after the completion of a placement. In addition, there is often strong involvement by local government and non-government organisations to reduce the risk of displacement.[111]

5.73A BSL study found that ILMs typically deliver good outcomes, notwithstanding that benchmarking success against other Active Labour Market Programs can be challenging.[112] This is supported by analysis of the prior New Deal for Communities program in the UK which experienced lower drop-out rates than other programs as well as longer retention in better quality jobs. However, critics suggested that these programs may come with high costs per job outcome.[113]

5.74During its international delegation, the Committee observed examples of ILMs, including the Territories with Zero Long-Term Unemployment project and the Royal Philips employment scheme. These are discussed in Chapter 3.

Other human services

5.75The Committee heard that individuals with complex personal challenges should be able to access supports in the broader human services ecosystem—including health, drug and alcohol, and housing services—before being connected to employment services. Supporting participants in this pathway requires time and flexible funding.[114]

5.76MatchWorks noted that there is also a small group of individuals who are temporarily restricted from accessing Centrelink or employment services due to abusive or violent behaviour. According to MatchWorks, this cohort may benefit from being connected to other human services instead of being entirely excluded.[115]

5.77Stakeholders also indicated that there would be value in embedding employment-related supports in social care services.[116] WAAMH expressed strong support for the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model and explained the model as follows:

Two full-time vocational specialists …[are] embedded in 50 headspace sites across Australia. The vocational specialists are part of the multidisciplinary team. Their specialist skills set is assistance into employment or linking into education, depending on the person's wants and needs …

A vocational specialist in IPS works with a maximum of 20 people at [a] time so that they can get out and engage with their local community and local employers … [I]t is not about vacancy searching; it's about building relationships with employers, looking at what their business needs are, finding some of the hidden job market that you might not see just on the surface, keeping that relationship up and then, hopefully, having a spot for someone at any point in time.[117]

5.78WAAMH noted that while IPS model is primarily used in the mental health system, it is adaptable to other contexts including veterans’ services, homelessness services, criminal justice settings, drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, and the Aboriginal Community-Controlled sector. Accordingly, the IPS approach could inform or at least be experimented with in a rebuilt employment services system. Within a rebuilt system, the focus of a Participation and Jobs plan for certain vulnerable jobseekers may be to maintain connection with their primary human service agency through which they receive intensive wrap-around support including vocational guidance.[118]

5.79In its 2020 inquiry into Mental Health, the Productivity Commission recommended that governments extend IPS model beyond its (then) current application to the health sector via a staged rollout to ambulatory and mental health services.[119]

Social participation

5.80Some stakeholders called for a dedicated service for individuals who are unlikely to benefit from vocational or pre-vocational support. A common theme was that this cohort would benefit from support that helps to build motivation, communication skills, self-confidence, and resilience in a supportive group environment.[120]

5.81AMES Australia (AMES) highlighted a range of community-based activities which might suit jobseekers with less capacity to benefit from employment services. These included volunteering, community ‘working bees’, joining a men’s shed or a women’s activity group, contributing to a community garden, connecting with a faith group, or participation in non-vocational programs that address physical or mental health.[121]

5.82The BSL, CPD, and UniMelb proposed a Work for Community program that would be a ‘stepping-stone’ to labour market reintegration for some individuals or give social participation opportunities for those distant from the labour market. Placements would be in diverse social enterprise and community service settings and of varying duration.[122] Parallels can be drawn between this proposal and Ireland’s longstanding Community Employment programs which the Committee examined in detail.

5.83The Australian Government previously funded wrap-around support programs for jobseekers with multiple barriers. One example is the Personal Support Programme (PSP) which was administered and funded by a former iteration of DEWR. PSP ran from 2002 until 2009, when it was rolled into the core service under Job Services Australia. PSP provided intensive case management over a two-year period to jobseekers facing multiple non-vocational barriers who were unable to benefit from mainstream employment services. An evaluation of the PSP conducted in 2005 by the BSL found that the program was a crucial and well-designed initiative to support people facing multiple barriers. The effectiveness of the program was hamstrung by a failure to provide funding to deliver the intensive supports participants required, as well as by a cap on participants which meant that many people were ‘waitlisted’.[123] The Committee also heard that, over time, the PSP had increasingly focused on employment.[124]

5.84Some providers asserted that government should give consideration to a program like the PSP for jobseekers who have significant barriers, stating that such a program would provide a more graduated approach to servicing and allow people to work on overcoming personal barriers without the pressure of searching for jobs.[125]

Addressing wilful non-compliance

5.85A very small proportion of the employment services caseload are persistently and deliberately noncompliant, despite having the capacity to work and to benefit from employment services.[126] The Committee heard that members of this cohort should be referred to Services Australia for intensive case management and compliance enforcement as a last resort, with a view to encouraging re-engagement.[127] This issue is discussed in more detail in Chapter 14, in the context of mutual obligation and compliance arrangements.

Supporting particular cohorts

5.86The continuum of services set out above is predicated on a unified Commonwealth Employment Services System differentiated by need and service intensity—not primarily by cohort. This is consistent with a system which enables flexible, person-centred support. Evidence also suggested that there was a need for a youth-specialist service which responds to the unique needs of younger jobseekers.[128]

5.87Within these two service streams (youth and working age), stakeholders indicated that providers should be required and enabled to target and tailor their services to support certain groups. There would continue to be a need for specialist services and supports—for example for First Nations peoples, people with disability, people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, and exoffenders—to ensure providers deliver a service that is tailored to cultural and community needs.[129]

5.88NESA noted that there are current examples across generalist services where the provider’s service model incorporates dedicated staff or activities targeting particular cohorts.[130] Other stakeholders indicated that there is a need for specialist providers, stating that this is demonstrated by the specialist licencing model under Workforce Australia and models in other human services.[131]

5.89Supports for specific cohorts are discussed below. The focus here is on the service delivery model, including the application of mutual obligation requirements, and the nature of the organisation which delivers the service. The role of specialist licenses is discussed in Chapter 14, in the more general context of commissioning, licensing, and procurement. Lowering barriers to access for specialised providers (which may be smaller or community-based organisations) is discussed in Chapters 7 and 14.

Recognising ‘life stage’

Supporting youth

5.90Young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, often experience greater barriers to finding and maintaining employment than other jobseekers. This is reflected in higher rates of youth unemployment across most if not all jurisdictions.[132] The Queensland Government department asserted that targeted support for young people is vital to enhancing employment outcomes, noting that this cohort face the same systemic barriers as other jobseekers, compounded by lack of experience, low confidence, and limited professional networks.[133] The NYCA noted that most young jobseekers need the support of individually tailored employment assistance to help them effectively transition into the labour market.[134]

5.91A 2013 paper on the discontinued Youth Connections program emphasised that young people who do not transition successfully from school to employment are the most vulnerable demographic in society, stating that this cohort ‘face[s] a bleak future of financial distress, increased likelihood of health and mental health issues, long-term welfare dependence and increased likelihood of involvement in the criminal justice system’. The paper emphasized that it is fiscally and socially responsible to resource this cohort with support that is easily and universally accessible to prepare them for the future. It also asserted that specialist services for youth were needed as the ‘mainstream’ employment services system (then Job Services Australia) did not offer the kind of specialist assistance that young people need to create a career pathway and to transition to secure employment.[135]

5.92The Employment White Paper observed that effective employment services can be critical to building young people’s capacity and supporting entry into the workforce. The paper also highlighted that young people may need support to finish school and with access to and attainment of post-school qualifications, as well as the transition from education to employment, particularly if skill shortages are to be addressed and future workforce demands are to be meet.[136]

5.93TtW is a core Workforce Australia program. It is designed to assist eligible young people aged 15 to 24 to obtain and keep employment, access training, and improve work readiness.[137] Among the stakeholders who discussed services for youth, there was support for retaining TtW—or at least a similar specialist youth service—within the employment services system.[138] The Committee heard that youth have distinct support needs and that neither Workforce Australia nor DES as currently designed are considered suitable or optimal for this cohort.[139]

5.94The Committee had the opportunity to visit with organisations supporting youth both within and outside of the Commonwealth system. A core focus of these organisations was building aspirations, both personal and career goals. Some provided greater assistance to students in secondary education to help with their transition to the skilled workforce—either via further education, apprenticeships, traineeships, and internships, or finding a desired job. One example was the Dubbo Opportunity Hub. This is part of a New South Wales Government’s initiative that supports First Nations communities from Year 8 until one year post-school (referred to as Year 13).[140] Some jurisdictions also have programs whereby employers interact directly with schools.[141]

5.95Evidence and discussions during site visits reinforced that some young people need more intensive support than others. Discussions indicated that the TtW program aligns to the concepts of medium intensity, strength-based support for those who have a pathway focused on building human capital as outlined earlier in this chapter. Youth who require a lighter approach will currently be in the online service but may have access to a single Youth Advisory Session with a TtW provider. The Committee was told that there would be value in TtW or a new youth service providing more ongoing, ‘light touch’ support, as this is something some youths have requested but been unable to access or have received with mix success as part of their EST short courses. Lower intensity brokerage case management would aim to ensure that youths move into suitable jobs and result in better long-term outcomes. It was also put to the Committee that youth with more complex barriers should be able to receive more intensive case management support by a youth specialist.[142]

5.96During the Committee’s European delegation, stakeholders similarly indicated that younger people often require different support than other clients. This is expressly recognised within employment services in other countries. For example, as set out in Chapter 3, Danish Job Centres have specific streams for youth. These focus on education outcomes, consistent with the general view in Denmark that the primary goal for people under 30 is education rather than employment. The Committee also heard that trials of activation policy for youth jobseekers did not yield positive results.

5.97Several stakeholders made suggestions for the role and functions of a specialist youth service within the employment services system. These included:

  • a single specialist youth service (with age the only eligibility criteria) which would reflect the preferences of young people who want a safe, age-restricted space.[143]
  • a short pre-employment program to equip younger people with foundational and employability skills and sets them on a path to achieve their career goals;[144] and
  • a broad platform of holistic wrap-around supports targeted to youth, with outreach to connect with disadvantaged youth who would otherwise not seek help.[145]
    1. Stakeholders—including younger people—also pointed to specific matters that should be captured by a youth-focused service. These included:
  • support to build skills and access education and training that will help them to make a successful transition into stable employment;
  • support to develop core skills, build confidence, and improve digital literacy;
  • information on workplace rights and responsibilities;
  • pre-apprenticeships or work experience to give the participant a more concrete understanding of different industries and job roles;
  • advice and coaching on jobs and career pathways;
  • intensive, face-to-face case management services, delivered by support workers who are not significantly older than the participant; and
  • assistance to access wrap-around supports that address mental health and wellbeing issues.[146]
    1. Young people who gave evidence to the Committee also emphasised that a youth specialist service should focus on empowering young people and delivering support that is tailored to their needs, noting that this may not always be focused on finding employment. They also indicated that a youth specialist service should have broad eligibility criteria to allow as many young people as possible to benefit.[147]
    2. The limited number of TtW providers in each region was praised and attributed to contributing to service quality and collaboration amongst providers. Some stakeholders highlighted other lessons from the existing TtW program that could be adopted should the program be retained, or a different youth-specialist service be developed. These included the following:
  • Extending the existing 24-month timeframe for the service, to enable ongoing provision of services and to give providers additional time to build relationships with their clients.
  • Ensuring the program has a strong focus on local collaboration and community engagement—including through incentives and contractual requirements.
  • Ensuring that providers are connecting young unemployed people to traineeships specifically linked to employers.
  • Committing to exploring financial and non-financial incentives to engagement with the program, noting that younger people often experience financial instability.
  • Developing arrangements for managing relationships between providers and local Services Australia centres.
  • Providing training and materials to Services Australia staff to ensure the provision of better information about the program to participants at the point of referral.
  • Ensuring that the performance framework for the program does not lead to resources being diverted away from participant support.
  • Committing to a program of ongoing work to identify and address administrative burdens on TtW providers.[148]
    1. Another improvement upon the current TtW program noted was that a youth specialist service must be better integrated with the school system to enable greater access for youth experiencing difficulties in the school system and for those who have finished school but are not in education, training, or employment. Young people who have completed Year 12 are not able to access the current TtW program, and the program is not an approved pathway for early school leavers in some jurisdictions.[149]
    2. Youth Projects noted that young people who are disengaged from education and employment face a six-month waiting period to commence in TtW. This period impacts negatively on the motivation of young people and leads to disengagement with the service. Youth Projects asserted that a shorter waiting period would greatly improve engagement and retention.[150]
    3. Youth Projects noted that some young people are registered in Workforce Australia notwithstanding that they have been identified as eligible for TtW. Others have been mis-identified as ineligible for TtW and streamed to the mainstream program. Youth Projects asserted that mechanisms must be developed to identify young people in Workforce Australia or DES who would be eligible for TtW and support them to transfer to that program.[151]
    4. The Australian Government previously funded other programs focused on supporting younger people. An example is the former Youth Connections program, which was administered by the (then) Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations. The program comprised a network of community-based providers that assisted disengaged young people aged 13 to 19 to reconnect with education, further training or, in some instances, employment opportunities. The program had a ‘two stage’ outcome framework, including progressive outcomes that recognised progress in addressing barriers and final outcomes to recognise re-engagement or sustained improvement in engagement with education, training, or employment. The program commenced in 2010, with federal funding ceasing at the end of 2014. An evaluation of the program measured and monitored the psychological wellbeing of participants. It found that the program was successful at addressing several of the barriers which young people faced to successful engagement with education, employment, as well as in building connections with families and communities.[152]
    5. When Youth Connections ceased, concerns were raised that youth who were not legally old enough to work, but who had disengaged from education, would ‘fall through the cracks’ and not be able to access any Commonwealth assistance.[153]
    6. The 2013 Youth Connect paper made the following recommendations for the future directions for programs designed to support at-risk youth. These were made in the context of proposed reforms to education arising out of a 2011 Gonski review of school funding.
  • The Commonwealth Government provide a national specialist transition and engagement service for disengaged and disadvantaged young people who need support to successfully transition to employment or further training. This service should sit in-between traditional schooling and employment assistance. It should be youth-focused, building foundational employment skills and capturing and developing the aspirations of young people.
  • In addition to a national transition and engagement service for young adults, there needs to be a specialist youth service based in the community, to complement and walk ‘side by side’ schools. This ‘reconnect to education’ service needs to be flexible enough to provide services to disengaged young people in the community and support them to re-enter an educational setting.[154]

Supporting mature aged people

5.107Mature aged jobseekers are at higher risk of disengaging with the labour market and becoming LTU. Evidence indicated that exits from the employment service system for this cohort tend to be the result of moving onto the Age Pension rather than into full-time employment.[155] While there are many and diverse reasons for this, discussions with stakeholders indicated that an overriding factor is age discrimination—a structural barrier that is not the fault of the individual jobseeker.

5.108One stakeholder observed that due to this higher risk of disengagement, mature age jobseekers often require more intensive, targeted assistance:

Both voluntary jobseekers and jobseekers with mutual job obligations over the age of 50 years—particularly those who have had no recent access to work or training within the last five years—should get the highest level of support.[156]

5.109The Committee heard that mature age jobseekers often require a different approach to support than their younger counterparts. WISE Employment stated that mature workers require less focus on physical work, more focus on higher cognitive loads, and short-term training that leverages existing work skills. WISE Employment also emphasised that digital literacy is crucial for this cohort—not only to support pathways to employment but to enable better engagement with everyday activities (as many administrative and financial activities are now conducted online).[157] NESA noted that an approach that recognises the unique needs and the contributions of mature age individuals to the productivity of the nation remains critical.[158]

5.110In Workforce Australia, the key service targeted to people aged 45 years and over is CTA. This service is accessible to Workforce Australia participants, as well as to people not in receipt of income support who volunteer into the service. CTA is a preemployment program that aims to help participants improve confidence and build the skills to become more competitive in the labour market.[159] COTA Australia raised concerns that awareness of CTA was low and the program was offered ‘too late’.[160]

5.111Research by DEWR indicates that CTA participants are generally very satisfied with the program. Participants also reported improvements in digital literacy, resilience and confidence, and job readiness.[161] Positive experiences of the program were also discussed during the Committee’s site visits, noting the program appears to have a supportive not coercive approach. Participants told the Committee directly that the program had been instrumental in building confidence, enabling them to make lasting friendships, and increasing their understanding of industry needs and of how their existing skillsets might translate to new opportunities.

5.112Workforce Australia also permits individuals aged 55 and over to meet their mutual obligations via a combination of paid and voluntary work. Points Based Activation System (PBAS) points targets may also be adjusted to account for individual circumstances and needs, including age-related barriers to engagement.[162]

5.113Stakeholders raised concern that current mutual obligations requirements are not adapted to the needs of mature aged participants. The Committee heard that it is not always possible to work the required number of paid work hours per week; that in some cases there are no voluntary work opportunities; and that requirements are not always adjusted to account for reduced work capacity.[163]

5.114A study of mature age individuals with mutual obligations found that existing policy settings worsen the conflict mature age jobseekers experience between obligatory job-seeking and systemic age discrimination. For some mature age participants, the requirement to search for a certain number of jobs was considered unachievable, unreasonable, and not suited to their personal circumstances and capabilities. Those that engaged in volunteering to meet their requirements reported mixed feelings and indicated that volunteering was perceived as a manifestation of the lack of practical assistance within employment services.[164]

5.115Single Mother Families Australia asserted that the age limit that allows a client to engage in voluntary work to meet their mutual obligations was arbitrary.[165]

5.116Workskil Australia (Workskil) stated that participation in employment services should be fully voluntary for participants aged 60 and over, stating that ‘it is distressing to see the impact of this service on older Australians’.[166] Another stakeholder proposed that individuals over 60 be enabled to access the Age Pension at a reduced rate, noting that this would mean this cohort is exempt from mutual obligations.[167]

5.117The Committee received little evidence on other programs targeted at mature age jobseekers (for example, the Skills Checkpoint for Older Workers and the Skills and Training Incentive). However, the Committee heard that upskilling and re-skilling mature aged jobseekers remains a priority in many jurisdictions.[168] The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has also implemented research and training programs focused on age discrimination in the workplace and on changing the attitudes of employers and recruiters.[169]

Supporting First Nations peoples

5.118Stakeholders asserted that employment services must be better adapted to the often-unique needs of First Nations jobseekers, noting that First Nations peoples are over-represented in the employment services system and in compliance activity.

5.119Very strong evidence was received—which accorded with the Committee’s site visits and observations—that Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) achieve better outcomes for First Nations jobseekers. The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) argued that there is a strong demand for greater First Nations service delivery and empowerment of ACCOs, noting that ACCOs often deliver multiple services within a community and have a critical role in coordinating service provision[170] The Coalition of Peaks similarly observed:

[ACCOs] are best placed to provide services to address barriers to employment and economic participation and to provide community based holistic services and supports to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This also means that any new initiative for employment, training or other programs should be Aboriginal-led and controlled, both in design and delivery, and be inclusive of both the workforce and the organisational development needs of ACCOs.[171]

5.120The NIAA also asserted that a First Nations-specific employment program should be a core part of the employment services market, noting that an evaluation of Indigenous employment programs found that First Nations-specific programs achieved better outcomes than mainstream services.[172]

5.121These views are reflected in Priority Reform 2 of the Closing the Gap Agreement, which affirms that ACCOs lead to better outcomes for First Nations peoples. ACCOs are well-placed to design and deliver culturally safe and effective services, not least because they employ more First Nations peoples, have greater cultural expertise, and have stronger ties to communities.[173]

5.122In the Productivity Commission’s review of the Closing the Gap Agreement, it was identified that while ACCOs have the knowledge and expertise to lead service design and delivery, they are not sufficiently valued in decision-making. Governments often treat ACCOs as the passive recipients of funding, rather than essential partners in delivering government and community outcomes. This is reflected in a tendency for government to ‘lift and shift’ services from the non-First Nations sector into the First Nations sector, and not affording ACCOs to design services and KPIs that align with First Nations community priorities, needs, and measures of success.[174]

5.123The Productivity Commission identified strong evidence that government must move away from transactional forms of contracting community services and towards relational contracting arrangements which involve government agencies and ACCOs working collaboratively to define service and program outcomes and to ensure that ACCOs have a secure base through appropriate funding:

If contracting were more relational and commissioning more aligned to shared decision-making, governments would be able to better learn from ACCOs the most effective ways to deliver services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This would help both governments and ACCOs to achieve their mutual aims. Governments could write more contracts that enable ACCOs to deliver the services that the ACCO considers necessary, rather than coming to ACCOs with a fixed idea of what service delivery should reflect.[175]

5.124The Productivity Commission noted that several state and territory governments have signalled a desire to move towards more relational approach contracting, including by publishing strategies or guidelines to assist agencies to adjust their commissioning approaches. However, these are mostly in the early stages of development.[176]

5.125Commissioning arrangements for employment services, including further discussion of a relational approach to contracting, are discussed in more detail in Chapter 15.

5.126Yilabara Solutions raised concern at the limited number of First Nations organisations in the employment services system, noting that they were the only First Nations-led organisation granted an Indigenous specialist license. Yilabara Solutions also raised concern that the funding and performance framework is identical for specialist and generalist providers.[177]

5.127Several stakeholders emphasised the importance of cultural competency, not only for providers who support First Nations jobseekers but across the whole employment and human services ecosystem.[178] Yilabara Solutions stated that cultural competency and First Nations engagement must go beyond employment services to employers and industry, stating:

If you look at industry as a whole, there's no body … evaluating industry around their corporate social responsibility. We have these companies winning contracts and saying, 'We're going to employ 10 per cent Indigenous people', but there's nobody actually assessing or monitoring that …

[This] is bigger than what Workforce Australia does … [T]o make a real difference in industry, it's almost like you need a different program with industry around how you embed an Aboriginal employment strategy, how you embed … cultural safety in your organisation and how do you embed that pipeline of candidates not just from the unemployed but through [Vocational Education and Training] VET and the unis.[179]

5.128The Committee visited several First Nations-owned organisations, as well as employment service providers with a high proportion of First Nation jobseekers. Discussions often highlighted the importance of culturally competent services, frontline staff who share the same cultural background as the clients they support, the need to build connections with local Elders, and the importance of team-based employment. Stakeholders also emphasised the importance of partnerships with other First Nations organisations and referrals to supports that are culturally appropriate and welcoming.

5.129The Committee heard mixed views on the capacity of employment services to respond kinship arrangements in First Nations communities. Some stakeholders noted that family members of First Nations jobseekers have attempted to discourage the jobseeker from engaging with employment services due to perceived interference with cultural responsibilities, mistrust of government, and negative perceptions of mainstream employment. This highlighted the importance of engaging with Elders and entire families and communities to create aspirations and community support for people to seek and retain work in the mainstream economy, as well as the need to engage with employers to build more inclusive workplaces that can accommodate cultural and kinship responsibilities.

Supporting people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

5.130CALD, migrant, and refugee jobseekers often experience significant barriers to social and economic participation, including a lack of local work experience, limited professional networks, and language barriers.[180] Multicultural Australia stated:

The cohorts we service often face intersecting structural disadvantages, complex cultural transitions, disrupted education pathways, traumatic past experiences, and system biases in the labour market… [which] all contribute in different ways to exclude diverse communities from participating in the Australian workforce.[181]

5.131Stakeholders emphasised that providers who support members of these cohorts should be reflective of the ethno-specific diversity of the employment region, be able to provide language support (or effective interpreting services), have appropriate connections with community groups, and be able to appropriately match individuals with employment opportunities commensurate with their skills and qualifications.[182]

5.132Stakeholders raised concern that few CALD and refugee licenses were issued under Workforce Australia—notwithstanding a high CALD and refugee caseload—and that those licenses were not issued in areas with a high proportion of jobseekers from CALD and refugee backgrounds.[183] During site visits, providers which hold a CALD specialist licence expressed enormous frustration that CALD jobseekers were not referred to them due to the Department’s opaque allocation processes and focus on provider viability and managing caseloads, rather than matching a jobseeker to the best service for them. This issue is discussed in further detail in Chapter 15.

5.133Several stakeholders asserted that settlement services should have a greater role in supporting CALD and refugee jobseekers, noting that barriers to employment and barriers to settlement are interlinked. The Settlement Council of Australia (SCoA) highlighted a 2019 review that recommended services for migrant and refugee jobseekers be delivered by organisations with specialist experience to minimise duplication and free up time to reinvest in tailored supports. The SCoA also raised concern that current procurement and quality assurance processes can act as barriers to entry for organisations with specialist experience.[184]

5.134SydWest Multicultural Services recommended that settlement services be engaged to deliver employment services to migrant and refugee jobseekers, noting that these organisations have an established footprint in local communities, better access to interpreters, and a high level of cultural expertise.[185] The Refugee Council of Australia (RCoA) stated that migrants and refugees should not be excluded from participating in Workforce Australia services, and recommended there be targeted investment in refugee employment specialists that have expertise in providing both settlement and employment services.[186]

5.135The SCoA acknowledged that the size of the Workforce Australia caseload means that not all CALD and refugee jobseekers can be placed with a specialist provider. However, the SCoA also emphasised the importance of all providers and staff being culturally competent, and of building strong links between generalist and specialist providers and between providers and other support services.[187]

5.136There was also some support for jobseekers from CALD, migrant, and refugee backgrounds to be referred to programs administered by the Department of Home Affairs—including AMEP and settlement programs—as part of a wrap-around servicing approach.[188] HOST asserted that specialist services for refugees and migrants should be allocated to Settlement Engagement and Transition Support services, with additional funding allocations and with flexibility to work across all migrant groups facing employment barriers.[189]

5.137Another area of concern raised was that accessing employment services is optional for humanitarian entrants for the first year after they arrive in the country. This is despite evidence that securing employment is a significant contributor to settlement success.[190] For example, the RCOA noted that while there are services in place to work with migrants, refugees, and humanitarian entrants while they are not eligible for employment services, they are limited in their capacities to provide the kind of tailored employment services that have proven effective. RCoA recommended that eligibility for Workforce Australia be extended to people seeking asylum who are living in the community to ensure that they can support themselves while their immigration status is resolved.[191]

5.138DEWR stated that humanitarian entrants are managed by Services Australia for their first 12 months. They are exempt from mutual obligations for 13 weeks, during which time they are supported by their Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) provider to settle, find a place to live, organise schooling, and integrate into the community. After this initial 13-week period, humanitarian entrants can meet their mutual obligation requirements by participating in the HSP, Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), paid work, study or training, voluntary work, or other approved activities. Newly arrived refugees can, at any time during the first 12 months in Australia, voluntarily participate in Workforce Australia and access the full suite of assistance.[192]

Supporting people with disability

5.139People with disability frequently experience unique barriers to employment, including discrimination, limited access to appropriate support in the workplace and limited access to education and training opportunities.[193]

5.140Evidence indicated that the employment services system as a whole must ensure that people with disability are supported into employment matched with their capabilities, needs, and interests.[194] For example, the Antipoverty Centre stated:

We need an employment service where every provider, whether they're a specialist provider or not—and specialist providers should exist—should be required to be very inclusive and understanding of disability, as should employers.[195]

5.141Depending on their circumstances, people with disability may access a range of employment supports.[196] The Disability Royal Commission recommended expanding eligibility for DES to include those with a lower work capacity—who may currently be in Workforce Australia.[197] However, the Committee also heard that cohort-specific services for people with disability are less relevant to employers than the skills and job readiness of the jobseeker and can make the system difficult to navigate for some jobseekers.[198]

5.142Several stakeholders identified gaps in Workforce Australia that must be addressed to improve outcomes for people with disability. These included:

  • better tailoring of mutual obligation requirements to people with disability or health conditions.[199]
  • ensuring that exemptions to mutual obligations are adapted to jobseekers with episodic conditions.[200]
  • enabling jobseekers to access treatment before connecting with employment.[201]
  • embedding vocational supports within health services; and[202]
  • recognising that some jobseekers do not have the capacity to work due to the severity of their disability or illness.[203]

Supporting people with experience of the criminal justice system

5.143Evidence indicated that there are few accessible pathways into employment, education, or training for people in or preparing to leave prison. While there are a range of social care services for people exiting prison, they are fragmented and sometimes difficult to access.[204] Prisons themselves are administered by State correctional services, meaning coordination with Commonwealth-level programs critical but unlikely to happen without commitment at political or senior bureaucratic levels and deliberate service design.[205]

5.144Stakeholders with whom the Committee engaged during site visits and meetings similarly observed that there is profound fragmentation and systemic disconnect between the key stages of pre-release, onrelease, and post-release employment support for people in prison. While particular observations and ideas differed, all stakeholders considered a more holistic approach was required that integrated State or Territory and Commonwealth services including linking employment support more seamlessly into correctional services.

5.145Stakeholders also observed that of all the cohorts of people in employment services, States and Territories had perhaps the largest financial incentive to get ex-offenders into work quickly as they most directly bear the very high costs of recidivism, and secure employment reduces the risk of reoffending.

5.146Stakeholders observed that employment services have a critical role in supporting people in or exiting prison, noting that intensive supports and engagement with employment-related activities have the potential to significantly reduce recidivism.[206] Some expressed strong support for employment services to be delivered or at least coordinated by the Commonwealth as a means of reducing the fragmentation within and supporting access to the social services ecosystem. The Committee also heard that Commonwealth investment should help to sustain and scale existing initiatives that have proven successful at the local or State and Territory level.[207]

5.147The Justice Reform Initiative (JRI) asserted that there is a clear need for specialist services and support for ex-offenders, given the unique challenges faced by this cohort and the corresponding level of expertise required by providers and their staff. According to the JRI, generalist providers have neither the resources nor the expertise to work effectively with this cohort.[208] The JRI indicated that a ‘throughcare’ model with the following elements is needed within the service:

  • Planning for release commences as soon as a person enters the prison system.
  • Training and support are delivered while a person is in prison—including support to develop core skills and begin planning for life post-release.
  • More intensive—and in some cases constant—support is provided in the three to four weeks post-release.
  • Support is maintained post-release. This should include connections with services across the social care ecosystem, noting that many people exiting the prison system face housing insecurity and mental health concerns.[209]
    1. In relation to this last point, the JRI also emphasised the importance of wrap-around servicing models, stating:

[T]he services that have the really good outcomes are those that say: 'You know what? We're actually going to work with you as a person, as we all require, and we're going to work with you across this range of issues. We are going to work with you around what you need to do in order to get job ready. We are going to work with you around where you're going to live and what things are going to look like. We're going to assist with your crises as they arise.'[210]

5.149Other stakeholders also highlighted the importance of pre-release support to people exiting the prison system.[211] Success Works drew attention to a program it delivers to incarcerated women, highlighting the critical role of mentoring and of involving those with lived experience of the justice system in the delivery of support.[212]

5.150Workforce Australia enables pre-release prisoners to register directly with a provider. Moreover, specialist ex-offender licenses are issued to some providers who are only referred ex-offenders and who are expected to have in place servicing strategies that are specifically tailored to the needs of that cohort.[213]

5.151Asuria observed that while are specialist ex-offender services in Workforce Australia, providers may not deliver pre-release support. This is because there is little incentive to do so, associated costs are high, and many prisoners re-locate upon release.[214]

5.152Issues can be compounded by the fact that many ex-offenders distrust employment services (and government services generally) and have little knowledge of available supports. Moreover, even where a member of this cohort engages with the system, they often engage with a generalist provider to avoid the stigma associated with the ‘ex-offender’ label. In the past, Youth Connections was extended to include Youth Connections – Specalised Services in South Australia. This program was developed in consultation with the State Government and provided holistic case management for young people at imminent risk of, engaged in, or transitioning from connection with the juvenile justice system. An evaluation of the program found that there was a clear need for support for this cohort that went ‘over and above’ support available through either State or Commonwealth general program resources.[215]

5.153The Committee engaged with providers that held an ex-offender license, delivered the Time to Work Employment Service, or delivered other state- and territory-based and non-government programs targeted to this cohort. These providers emphasised the importance of throughcare and continuity of support, as well as the importance of connections to the broader social care ecosystem upon release from prison. The providers indicated that they make best efforts to deliver wrap-around supports and are often successful in enabling employment outcomes. However, service delivery is often hamstrung by the need to coordinate with correctional services and the need to liaise with each of the independent prisons in the region. Providers indicated that there would be value in developing an intergovernmental agreement which defines the role of the States and Territories in the employment services system and enables access by providers to prisons without the need for multiple layers of administration.

5.154Despite the designated speciality in Workforce Australia, no evidence was provided to the Committee regarding any distinction within the funding or service model that substantially differentiates a specialist ex-offender provider service from any other, aside from the name and a higher caseload of ex-offenders. This issue is discussed in more detail in Chapter 15.

5.155In addition, it was highlighted that the automatic exemptions for exoffenders from mutual obligations has negative impacts to post-release outcomes. Currently, when an ex-offender exits correctional services there is an automatic three-month exemption from mutual obligations which means there is no requirement to engage with employment services. The Committee was told that even if specific mutual obligations may not be appropriate for a person transitioning out of prison, this does not mean that they should not be able to or required to connect with a provider and access support, subject to appropriate exemptions. This issue is discussed in more detail in Chapter 14, in the context of exemptions from mutual obligations.

Eligibility for employment services

5.156As outlined in Chapter 1, eligibility for Workforce Australia Online and Workforce Australia Services is linked to receipt of income support payments. Other programs, such as TtW, will have different, more specific eligibility criteria.

5.157However, there are circumstances in which individuals who are not in receipt of income support may access services:

  • Individuals who are not in receipt of income support may access the ‘base’ service in Workforce Australia Online. This enables them to search and apply for jobs, seek information, and contact providers. However, people not in receipt of income support cannot access the ‘full’ service in Workforce Australia Online.
  • Certain cohorts can voluntarily engage in Workforce Australia Services—including directly registering with a provider. These include vulnerable youth, pre-release prisoners, and participants in programs for retrenched workers and partners.[216]
    1. In addition, participation in employment services is not restricted to people who are unemployed, notwithstanding the focus in Workforce Australia on supporting people into work. DEWR indicated that between 30 to 40 per cent of participants in Workforce Australia are employed. This includes people in insecure employment and those who have recently started work and are transitioning off the caseload.[217]
    2. Some stakeholders argued that the current eligibility criteria are too restrictive, and that the system should be more accessible to individuals not in receipt of income support. For example, one stakeholder observed that ‘voluntary’ jobseekers (that is, those not in receipt of income support) are not entitled to employment assistance and can feel abandoned by the system, stating:

The general public [is] NOT informed that if you are in a married or partnered relationship with [one] partner on fulltime income, that this forfeits your rights to obtain the same level of employment support, assistance, and access as everyone else.[218]

5.160The Committee also heard that at least some elements of the employment services system—whether that be direct support or job coaching, assessment and referral to other human services, or connections with employers—should be available to anyone who wishes to engage. The CPD stated:

[A]n open service [is better equipped to respond to] … an industrial transition, for instance, and ramp up the work around helping people through that transition. In actual fact you're working with people before they get to the need for income support, so there's a real cost-benefit associated with that as well.[219]

5.161As identified in Chapter 3, several State Governments have established employment services that allow any person to self-refer and receive employment and training advice. For example, the Victorian Government acknowledged that only 40to 60 per cent of participants in Jobs Victoria were also participants in Workforce Australia.[220] Similarly, the Tasmanian Job Hub Network registered more than 7,000 jobseekers. More than half were not connected to Workforce Australia.[221] During site visits, one of these Hubs explained to the Committee that it does not limit its services to people in receipt of income support, and that its ‘walk in’ model has been very successful in connecting jobseekers to employers. The Hub also noted that it works directly with employers to support changes to work and recruitment practices and has been able to negotiate placements for jobseekers who are further from the labour market by also offering candidates who are not on income support and may be job ready.

5.162Stakeholders also supported broadening eligibility to people who are underemployed or in lower-income or more precarious roles.[222] APM submitted that this approach would enable providers to engage with individuals who are employed to enhance the quality and sustainability of their work, as well as to enable current employees to search for jobs without needing to disengage from their existing role.[223]

5.163Multiple case workers advised during site visits that there would be benefit in case workers being allowed to keep working with clients who take insecure work that or a job does not meet their long-term aspirations, particularly if this is part of a longer-term Jobs Plan. Case workers expressed concern that the current system forces case workers to focus on keeping clients in them in any work in order to chase an outcome payment. In addition, case workers advised that it is much easier to encourage people to commence casual, part-time, or low-quality work if it is seen as part of a longer-term plan to more sustainable employment, potentially including training or study components.

5.164The Committee heard that in-work support is provided through other employment service programs. DSS noted that DES offers supports to current employees via the Work Assist Program.[224] While the focus of this program may not be on progression towards more secure work, the program offers assistance to employees who have difficulty fulfilling the essential requirements of their role due to injury, disability, or health condition.[225]

5.165The Committee heard that the majority of new migrants have a strong desire to work, and often need support to prepare for and find employment—including after the initial settlement period has concluded. In addition, migrants and refugees frequently need assistance in obtaining local work experience and in having overseas qualifications recognised.[226] However, subject to visa status many newly arrived migrants will have differing access to Workforce Australia, even if they have work rights. For example, migrants holding a Bridging Visa E are ineligible for income support and cannot access Workforce Australia.[227] Stakeholders indicated that measures should be implemented to increase access to employment services for these cohorts, providing pre-employment or employment assistance while they wait for the resolution of their immigration status.[228]

Services that respond to employers needs

5.166As outlined in Chapter 2, a persistent critique of the employment services system is that it is focused on conditioning the supply of jobseekers and has failed to respond to employers’ needs. Stakeholders emphasised that employers require a single point of contact through which to fill vacancies, and assurance that jobseekers will have skills and qualifications aligned with workforce demand.[229]

5.167In addition, the Committee heard that the employment services system must deliver assistance to employers that cannot be found elsewhere.[230] Key value propositions for employers—and particularly for small and medium enterprises (SMEs)—include:

  • the provision of labour market insights and industry trends;[231]
  • post-employment support, to ensure that a jobseeker adapts to and will remain with the employer;[232]
  • recruitment and workforce planning support including new ways to design jobs, recruit, and enable career progression;[233] and
  • support with business planning, marketing, and financial management.[234]
    1. Navitas stated that the employment services system should better integrate with other programs that support employers, some of which could be positioned as post-placement support for both the jobseeker and the employer.[235]
    2. Support for employers is considered in more detail in Chapter 12.

Committee comment

5.170The current employment services system is failing to provide tailored, individualised support to jobseekers as was envisaged and is required. Within a rebuilt system, services for jobseekers need to be far more differentiated—both by recognising that there are multiple and diverse pathways to employment and by varying the intensity of support depending on a client’s pathway to employment and their aspirations, needs, and circumstances. The current model where every jobseeker in provider services must attend a mandatory fortnightly appointment where half the time is consumed by administrative activities is patently ridiculous and ineffective. Some people need more support, some need less.

5.171Broadly, the Committee considers that the unified service model for adults of working age in a rebuilt Commonwealth Employment Services System should align with that proposed by the BSL, CPD and the UniMelb, outlined at [5.10] to [5.12].

5.172This model would include an enhanced online service for jobseekers who are closest to the labour market, with Employment Services Australia (ESA) transformed into a provider of ‘hybrid’ services (a mix of face-to-face and digital supports). This would provide the capacity to support jobseekers assessed as close the labour market with digital services and low intensity support for minor vocational barriers to employment.

5.173Enhanced initial assessment, re-assessment and referral processes led by ESA (discussed in Chapter 9) would allow some people to be initially referred to more appropriate supports—such as local or cohort-specific health or community programs and programs that align with capacity building goals—rather than requiring immediate referral to providers to focus on preparing for and securing work.

5.174For those who are assessed as capable of work and are referred to a provider for support, more diversity should be provided in the type and level of assistance. This should be captured by an agreed individual Participation and Jobs Plan, recognising that people need different levels of engagement which will vary over time. Supports provided within a ‘generalist’ case management or Job Coach service may include:

  • ‘Low intensity’ advisory and support services, generally delivery by contracted service partners, for people assessed as close to the labour market but who are not able to manage in a predominantly digital environment or who have elected to access supports through a partner.
  • ‘Medium intensity’ support, generally delivery by contracted service partners, which applies a strengths-based approach to case management. The focus of this service would be on setting goals and overcoming vocational and non-vocational barriers. The client would be encouraged to self-manage at least some activities (supported by a personalised Participation and Jobs Plan) while their case manager monitors and evaluates their progress.
  • ‘High intensity’ support for clients who are furthest from the labour market but who are still seeking to enter or return the workforce. This would include in-depth support with goal setting and one-on-one assistance to attain those goals—including wrap-around supports. Clients receiving ‘high intensity’ services would likely be case managed through a public sector-led program.
    1. In designing these supports—and particularly supports for people who are furthest from the labour market—government should give close consideration to the lessons of former Australian programs, including the PSP. There are also useful lessons to be learned from the experience of international jurisdictions, including the French ‘remobilisation’ package for long-term and very long-term unemployed people.
    2. This is not to suggest that funding should always flow according to the categorisation of individual jobseekers given the incentive for providers to then seek re-assessment to receive more money. Funding is considered in more detail in Chapter 15.
    3. The current level of competition in regions and places is also seriously excessive. As a default proposition, the TtW commissioning approach should be adopted for mainstream provider-led case management and ‘Job Coach’ services. This would involve commissioning a single provider per place (which may see more than one provider within a region). Changes to the commissioning model are outlined in Chapter 15. These changes should be accompanied by a change in market culture to a relational contracting model focused on collaboration and quality improvement rather than punishment and compliance.
    4. In a more collaborative model that includes ESA Regional Hubs, clients should be able to be referred to complementary programs, education and training, and other services, even prior to job coach management. A rebuilt system must recognise that employment services are often a gateway human service and that supportive wrap-around services are essential for jobseekers with higher needs and multiple barriers.
    5. In addition to generalist case management services, the system must ensure that services meet the needs of particular cohorts. The Committee considers that ACCOs (to support First Nations peoples), CALD specific services, services for exoffenders, and services for people with more significant disabilities are particularly important. While these services and organisations may deliver many of the same supports as part of generalist service outlined above, they would be commissioned separately to providers of that service. Flexible commissioning arrangements to support market entry by these organisations, underpinned by a relational contracting approach, are discussed in more detail in Chapter 15.
    6. A broader range of options for people assessed as having very limited capacity for or likelihood of employment in the short term is also required. Society and the service system should stop pretending that doing the same thing over and over again—including leaving people in case management services for years doing pointless courses and applying endlessly for jobs—will magically achieve different results. There is little point in continuing to force people with limited capacity for or likelihood of employment into mainstream case management services.
    7. The Committee accepts that it is preferable for a small minority of people with more complex needs or barriers to have approved social participation and ‘Life First’ goals in the Participation and Jobs Plan, and that this cohort would be better referred to services focused on recovery and social participation than to services which focus on pursuing immediate employment. Requiring participants to pursue employment where they are unsuited to that pathway also results in businesses being flooded with inappropriate job applications, leading to employers disengaging further from the system. The system should also aim to enable many in this cohort to move into the employment case management service and to focus on preparing for and finding employment at that point. The appropriate time to move into case management would be subject to the individual’s needs, circumstances, and aspirations.
    8. The Committee also considers it past time that our society remembers and accepts that there are a very small number of people for whom paid employment in the open labour market may not be a realistic option given the extent of their structural and individual barriers and the realities of the labour market, but who may not meet the criteria for an Aged or Disability Support Pension. It is pointless, cruel, and self-defeating to continue to expect these citizens to endlessly apply for jobs that they are not capable of doing and will not obtain.
    9. A civilised society should accept that for this very small minority of people, social participation is a realistic and decent expectation (at least at a point in time). Social participation may include volunteering, contributing to community projects and community work activities, and ongoing engagement in nonvocational programs designed to improve physical or mental health. This conclusion should in no way be understood as ‘giving up on people’ or abandoning the principle that everyone capable of work should pursue work. Rather, this recognises that in every human society there is a small group of people who simply cannot contribute in this way at least at some points in their life. It is also the case that people’s situations change, and while the prospect of work may not be clearly foreseeable at a point in time, with the right support many people can return to the labour market. The Committee has observed that other countries take a more realistic approach to this issue.
    10. ESA would be well placed to approve Participation and Jobs Plans and retain case management oversight of people whose goals are social participation. This would leave providers free to deliver services that focus on supporting people with realistic prospects of employment to secure work.
    11. Another key difference between the future system and existing arrangements is that people would have greater choice as to service(s) they receive (for example, online supports or the low intensity ‘Job Coach’ service) informed and directed by enhanced assessment processes as detailed in Chapter 9. Jobseekers should also be re-assessed and referred to services as their needs change and as they move closer to or further from the labour market.
    12. At least some people in social participation-focused pathways and who are engaging with non-vocational supports (for example, mental health or allied health services) may later seek to move into employment once other barriers have been addressed. As such, the Committee considers that there would be real value in embedding employment supports within other human services, consistent with the IPS model discussed earlier in this chapter. This would allow clients to begin considering employment while addressing non-vocational barriers, and support a long-term, progressive move towards or return to work while remaining focused on other, often recovery-oriented activities. The Committee considers that approach currently used by Headspace is a useful model and a good starting point for such a measure.
    13. People who are clearly capable of work yet are persistently non-compliant or who refuse to engage with services and seek work should eventually be case managed by government. Ultimately, case management should be undertaken by ESA (the new entity recommended in Chapter 4). However, Services Australia may take on this responsibility until the new entity is established. This—along with changes to mutual obligations and compliance (outlined in Chapter 13)—will free up providers to focus on supporting the significant majority of for jobseekers who are genuine about preparing for and seeking work, rather than on compliance and administration and pm managing people who are not capable of or not serious about securing work. A reformed approach should help to significantly improve the relationships between jobseekers and frontline staff.
    14. Reforms to employment services must also focus on better supporting employers, including measures and incentives to help businesses to fill vacancies and access to supports that help with job design, recruitment practices and inclusive approaches to workforce development. A new approach to supporting employers that complements the typology of supports for jobseekers (above) is considered in detail in Chapter 12.
    15. The Committee noted in its interim report that recommendations in relation to the broader employment services system may impact upon the future design of the program that replaces ParentsNext. The Committee suggests that the service to replace ParentsNext may ultimately become part the generalist case management service and encourages government to take account of the recommendations in this report in finalising the design of this replacement program.
    16. Participation in employment services is proposed to remain a condition of receiving income support (albeit with the reformed participation and compliance arrangements as in Chapters 6 and 14). The Committee envisages that service eligibility would largely reflect existing criteria for Workforce Australia.
    17. The Committee envisages that any person would be able to access the new regional hubs overseen by ESA, which are discussed in Chapters 4 and 12. This may be, for example, to obtain basic advice on job search, the local labour market, skills and training options, employment suggestions or a referral to another human service.
    18. In the context of providing more robust post-placement support, the Committee has explored a specific, career-focused service for people in low-paid and precarious jobs, and for people at risk of unemployment. This is discussed in Chapter 11.

Recommendation 8

5.193The Committee recommends that the core service model for the new Commonwealth Employment Services System provide far more tailored and flexible support, with tailored Participation and Jobs Plans that recognise more diverse pathways to employment. The model should include the following key elements:

  • A digital-hybrid employment service delivered by Employment Service Australia for those jobseekers identified as being able to effectively self-manage online.
  • Case management services informed by more tailored assessment and Participation and Jobs Plans, differentiated by an individual’s needs and proximity to the labour market, with:
  • A ‘low intensity’ advisory and support service focused on preparing for and finding work and addressing minor vocational barriers to employment, generally provided by contracted service partners.
  • A ‘medium intensity’ case management service focused on setting goals and overcoming vocational and non-vocational barriers, generally provided by contracted service partners.
  • A ‘high intensity’ service for people who are furthest from the labour market, including in-depth and wrap-around support, likely case managed through a public sector-led program.
  • Referral and access to other human services that address substantial non-vocational barriers to employment as required.
  • Cohort-specific specialist support delivered by organisations with relevant expertise and competency, with priority cohorts including First Nations peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with significant disabilities.
  • Social and community participation goals for people who are unlikely to benefit from other assistance for whom employment is simply not a realistic outcome at least in the short term.

Recommendation 9

5.194The Committee recommends that the Australian Government develop, trial, and implement measures to embed pre-employment and vocational supports within a person’s primary human service, such as mental health, homelessness, or family violence services. This should be informed by the approach being taken in Headspace.

Recommendation 10

5.195The Committee recommends that in designing a high intensity case management service for people furthest from the labour market, most likely delivered by the public sector or community based not-for-profit service partners, the Australian Government consider the lessons of the former Personal Support Programme and the French ‘remobilisation’ package for long-term and very-long-term unemployed people.

5.196The Committee also considers that a youth-specific service stream should be created within the new Commonwealth Employment Services System for all people aged under 25years. This service should incorporate and build on the existing TtW program and draw on lessons of the successful Youth Connections program.

5.197As part of the reformed assessment process, the youth specialist service should be presented as the ‘default’ service for jobseekers under 25 years, unless they are clearly job ready and would be better served by self-managing online or by referral to a cohort-specific service (for example, young First Nations peoples). Consistent with a service which offers greater choice and control to jobseekers, younger jobseekers would not be forced into the youth-specific service but would be presented with options and information to enable an informed decision.

5.198Like the generalist service for working age adults, the youth-specific service should vary in intensity and facilitate referrals to other human services as part of a wrap-around approach to support. Any young person should be able to access basic employment support through this program. The TtW program should also be retained and be integrated into the new youth-specific service as a higher level of support to which eligible people can be referred.

5.199An integrated youth specific service should be delivered in each place by specialist providers with strong links to local communities and places and a demonstrated ability to provide support adapted to the unique needs of young people. The Committee was consistently impressed with those TtW providers who also offer other youth services in a hub model and considers that youth hubs should be preferred in future commissioning and procurement models where possible.

5.200The Committee does not propose that a new service focused on supporting older people is required; but considers that the current CTA program should be retained and enhanced (see Chapter 14) and that service partners should consider specialist frontline staff with expertise in supporting older clients.

5.201The Committee also considers it critical that measures are implemented to reduce ageism among employers, to ensure that older people are afforded the same work opportunities as other jobseekers. The training program highlighted by the former Age Discrimination Commissioner appears to be an effective and cost-efficient means of improving employers’ attitudes towards older people. This should be promoted to employers, including by DEWR and the proposed ESA (see Chapter 4). The employer-focused service delivered by ESA and ESA Regional Hubs (see Chapter 12), should also work with employers to encourage them to engage older people, including by promoting the training program highlighted by the former AgeDiscrimination Commissioner and working with employers to develop and implement more inclusive work practices.

Recommendation 11

5.202The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Employment Services System include a youth-specific service, open to all people under the age of 25years. The Youth Employment Service should retain the existing Transition to Work program as a more intensive option while also providing less intensive support options that vary according to individual circumstances and Participation and Jobs Plans. Commissioning and procurement should preference youth specialist providers with proven track records in delivering services to young people, as well as providers which are co-located with other youth services in youth hubs where possible.

Recommendation 12

5.203The Committee recommends that the Australian Government:

  • promote and encourage employers to deliver training to improve attitudes towards older people in the workforce; and
  • strongly encourage providers—and service partners, under the rebuilt Commonwealth Employment Services System—to work with employers to change attitudes towards older people in the workforce and to develop more inclusive recruitment and work practices.
    1. Employment services for jobseekers with experience of the criminal justice system or those leaving prison require a fundamental rethink, as the existing approach is ill-considered, fragmented, and ineffective. The Committee was stunned to hear evidence during site visits that some jurisdictions continue to release prisoners on Friday afternoons with no secure housing or on-release plan. Examples of interesting programs or approaches were discussed but there seems to be no coordination or coherence.
    2. For those exiting prison, the three key stages of ‘pre-release’ ‘on-release’ and ‘post-release’ need to be aligned in a properly designed and integrated service model that allows the same case manager to work with an individual at each stage of their journey. The Committee strongly agrees with the conclusions of the Justice Reform Initiative that ex-offenders should be supported via a throughcare service which includes:
  • training and support delivered while the person is in prison—including support to develop core skills and begin planning for life post-release;
  • more intensive support is provided in the three to four weeks post-release; and
  • continuation of support post-release, including connections with services across the human services ecosystem.
    1. The Committee concludes that the most effective outcomes for ex-offenders will only be achieved via much closer collaboration between the Commonwealth and the states and territories. State and Territory Governments are responsible for correctional services and are also the largest direct fiscal beneficiaries from reduced recidivism as a result of getting someone into a job.
    2. The Committee considers that political leadership and commitment is necessary to drive a new approach. Commonwealth and State Employment and Corrections Ministers should commission a serious piece of reform work, potentially via National Cabinet, to develop a refreshed intergovernmental commitment and agreement to reform and redesign employment services for ex-offenders pre-release, onrelease, and post-release.
    3. While specific service responses will vary between jurisdictions and places, there are obviously commonalities in the issues and challenges and benefits from shared service design, ongoing learning, and rigorous evaluations of good practice. This work should be directly informed by the Justice Reform Initiative.
    4. In terms of service delivery approaches, while some ex-offenders may prefer and choose to access generalist or other specialist services, the Committee considers that it is highly likely that better outcomes will be achieved in most cases by specialist organisations or programs which are solely focused on ex-offenders. There are particular issues and barriers to employment they experience and common restrictions on employment options due to criminal records.
    5. In places which have high numbers of ex-offenders and a specialist provider is contracted under the Commonwealth system, only one organisation should be engaged in each place drawing on lessons from the Time to Work Employment Services model. Cohort specific or place based intensive programs should also be considered. In places that have low populations of ex-offenders and cannot sustain specialist providers or programs but where there is demonstrated need then an outreach service by a specialist organisations or programs could be trialled or a specialist worker in a generalist provider.

Recommendation 13

5.211The Committee recommends that in relation to employment service support for ex-offenders:

  • Commonwealth and State and Territory Employment and Corrections Ministers commission a serious piece of reform work—potentially via National Cabinet—to develop a refreshed intergovernmental commitment and agreement to reform, design, delivery and funding of employment services for ex-offenders pre-release, on-release and post-release. States and Territories should be encouraged to co-invest in employment services and programs for ex-offenders given the significant fiscal savings that accrue from reduced recidivism.
  • There be at least one specialist provider available in each jurisdiction and no more than one in each place, supported by cohort based and place-based programs which integrate with the corrections system and provide holistic support and access to other human services.


[1]See Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR), Submission 254, pages 56–57, 79, 83.

[2]Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2018), Policy Brief on Activation Policies: Profiling tools for early identification of jobseekers who need extra support, p. 1,, viewed 20 November 2023.

[3]See, for example, Professor Jeff Borland, Submission 171, pages 5, 7; Bamara, Submission 214, p. 9.

[4]Brotherhood of St Laurance (BSL), Submission 249, p. 41.

[5]See, for example, Professor Borland, Submission 171, p. 7; National Employment Services Association (NESA), Submission 260, p. 42.

[6]Professor Borland, Submission 171, pages 7–8.

[7]See, for example, IntoWork Australia (IntoWork), Submission156, p. 3; Access Care Network Australia (ACNA), Submission 179, p. 1; atWork Australia (atWork), Submission 210, p. 5.

[8]Institute for Employability Professionals (IEP), Submission 291, p. [13].

[9]NESA, Submission 260, pages 26, 42, 46–47.

[10]Commonwealth of Australia (1996), Reforming Employment Assistance: Helping Australians into Real Jobs– Ministerial Statement by Senator the Hon Senator Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, p. 11.

[11]See, for example, BSL, Submission 249, p. 35. Ms Sally Sinclair, CEO, NESA, Committee Hansard, 14March 2023, pages 39–40.

[12]See, for example, AMES Australia (AMES), Submission 148, p. 3; Australian Centre for Career Education (ACCE), Submission 149, p. 2; Multicultural Australia, Submission 182, p. 5; Jobs Australia, Submission 185, pages4, 14; Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Submission 203, pages 19–20; Yilabara Solutions, Submission 231, pages 18–19; BSL, Submission 249, p. 43.

[13]Ms Sinclair, NESA, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2023, pages 39–40.

[14]See Professor Borland, Submission 171, p. 2. See also BSL, Centre for Policy Development (CPD) and University of Melbourne (UniMelb), Submission 256.1, p [10].

[15]ACOSS, Submission 203, pages 27–31.

[16]ACOSS, Submission 203, p. 31.

[17]BSL, CPD, and UniMelb, Submission 256, pages 12–14.

[18]BSL, CPD, and UniMelb, Submission 256, p. 13. See also BSL, CPD, and UniMelb, Submission 256.1, pages [9–10]. See also Dr Michael McGann, Senior Lecturer in Political Science, UniMelb, Committee Hansard, 20September 2023, p. 3.

[19]Jobs Australia, Submission 185, p. 4, 12–14, 15.

[20]See, for example, Sarina Russo Job Access (SRJA), Submission 145, p. 18; MAX Solutions (MAX), Submission 146, pages 3, 18; Name Withheld, Submission 187, p. [1]; The Salvation Army Employment Plus (SAEP), Submission 199, p. 40; Australian Services Union (ASU), Submission 205, p. [3]; Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), Submission 212, p. [8]; GetUp!, Submission 251, p.3.

[21]See, for example, Social Ventures Australia (SVA), Submission 232, pages 4, 13; Steven de Vroom, Submission 279, p. [3], Professor Shelley Mallett, Director—Social Policy and Research Centre, BSL, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2023, p. 25. The Employment Fund (EF) is discussed further in Chapter 11.

[22]See, for example, National Youth Commission Australia (NYCA), Submission 166, p. [5]; Tasmanian Government, Submission 174, p. 3; SSI, Submission 193, pages 3, 5-7; Australian Unemployed Workers' Union (AUWU), Submission 253, p. [10]; NESA, Submission 260, p. 45; Name Withheld, Submission 264, p.[3]; IEP, Submission 291, pages [4, 7, 13]; Mr Mark Glasson, CEO, Anglicare WA, Committee Hansard, 1February 2023, pages 2-3; Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO, ACOSS, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 4.

[23]See, for example, Professor Borland, Submission 171, p. 16; Jobs Australia, Submission 185, pages 13–14; SYC Ltd (SYC), Submission 189, p. 9; BSL, CPD and UniMelb, Submission 256, pages 12–13.

[24]Commonwealth of Australia (2023), Working Future: The Australian Government's White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities, pages 153, 154.

[25]See, for example, Name Withheld, Submission 118, p. [1]; CoAct, Submission 151, p. 11; ACOSS, Submission 230, pages 8, 16, 31; Bamara, Submission 214, p. 3; BSL, Submission 249, pages 9, 44, 48 NESA, Submission 260, p.52. MatchWorks, Submission 263, p. 2.

[26]See, for example, VERTO, Submission 202, p. [20]; ACOSS, Submission 203, pages 27–31; APM, Submission 213, p. 10; NESA, Submission 260, pages 52–54.

[27]DEWR, Submission 254.5, pages 34–36. ‘Employment-related’ exits are exits that are strongly correlated with a participant being in employment three months later, according to responses to post-program monitoring surveys.

[28]See, for example, Jobs Australia, Submission 185, pages 14–15; BSL, CPD and UniMelb, Submission 256, pages 12–13; NESA, Submission 260, pages52-53; Antipoverty Centre, Submission 276, p. [17].

[29]See, for example, National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW), Submission 135, p. [3]; SRJA, Submission 145, p.19; SSI, Submission 193, p. 3; Navitas, Submission 262, p.13.

[30]DEWR, Submission 254.5, pages 5–6.

[31]See, for example, Dr Ann Nevile, Submission136, p 11; Jobs Australia, Submission 185, p. 13.

[32]Yilabara Solutions, Submission 231, p. 18;

[33]See, for example, Professor Borland, Submission 171, pages 3, 16; Jobs Australia, Submission 185, p. 14; Australian Youth Affairs Commission (AYAC), Submission 238, p. 2 BSL, Submission 249, p. 49; BSL, CPD and UniMelb, Submission 256, p. 11.

[34]See, for example, National Self-Employment Association (NSEA), Submission 225, p. 3; The ASE Group (ASE), Submission 258, pages 4–5, 6.

[35]See, for example, Professor Borland, Submission 171, pages 16; Per Capita, Submission 252, p. 52.

[36]BSL, Submission 249, p. 49.

[37]See, for example, Youth Projects, Submission 141, p. 16; Training Alliance Group (TAG), Submission 195, p.[4].

[38]See, for example, Dr Nevile, private capacity, Committee Hansard, 11 August 2023, p. 10; Ms Diana Amato, CEO, AYAC, Committee Hansard, 11 August 2023, p 38.

[39]See, for example, yourtown, Submission 141, p. 4; AYAC, Submission 238, p. 2; NESA, Submission 260, p21; Navitas, Submission 262, pages 15–16.

[40]Commonwealth of Australia (2023), Working Future: The Australian Government's White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities, pages 53, 89.

[41]See, for example, Mrs Natalie Fitzgerald, General Manager—Business Excellence, atWork, Committee Hansard, 1 February 2023; pages 17–18; Mr Ben Gales, Chief Delivery Officer, Paul Ramsay Foundation (PRF), Committee Hansard, 11 August 2023, p 29.

[42]See, for example, MAX, Submission 146, p. 24; CoAct, Submission 151, p. 20; MTC Australia (MTC), Submission 164, p. 4; SAEP, Submission 199, pages 40, 42, 59. See also, NESA, Submission , p. 82.

[43]See, for example, IntoWork, Submission156, p. 1; SAEP, Submission 199, pages 8, 12.

[44]See, for example, AMES, Submission 148, p. 3; Multicultural Australia, Submission 182, p.8; Western Australian Association for Mental Health (WAAMH), Submission 248, p. 5; Relationships Australia, Submission 280, p. 7.

[45]See, for example, Youth Projects, Submission 141, p. 8; Jobs Australia, Submission185, p. 12; Getting Welfare to Work Research Team, Submission 191, p. 10; NESA, Submission 260, p. 45; Mr Gales, PRF, Committee Hansard, p. 28.

[46]See, for example, Youth Projects, Submission 141, pages 7, 19; Joblink Plus, Submission 157, pages 5, 8–9; Multicultural Australia, Submission 182, p.8; Dr Katherine Curchin, Submission 197, pages 1, 4; Good Cycle, Submission 237, p. 4; WAAMH, Submission 248, p. 5.

[47]Ms Julie-Ann Guivarra, Deputy CEO—Policy and Programs, National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 15.

[48]See, for example, CoAct, Submission 151, p. 8.

[49]SECL, Submission 38.1, pages 3–4. See also Government of Victoria, Community Employment Connectors Program,, viewed 20 November 2023.

[50]See, for example, CVGT Employment (CVGT), Submission 106, p. 10; WISE Employment, Submission 169, p. 10; SYC, Submission 178, p. 7; Good Cycles, Submission 237, p. 5.

[51]Professor Leila Green, Dr Kylie Stevenson, Dr Kelly Jaunzems, Ms Claire Hanlon and Mr Arthur Hanlon (Professor Green et al), Submission 120, p. [5].

[52]Government of Victoria, Submission 278, p. 5.

[53]Tasmanian Government, Submission 174, pages [5, 6, 10].

[54]See BSL, Submission 59, p. 9; Ms Rebecca Pinney Meddings, Senior Manager—Financial Inclusion, BSL, Committee Hansard, 11 November 2022, p. 28.

[55]WomenCAN Australia, Submission 319, p. 2. See also WomenCAN, Submission 319 (Attachment 3), p. 3.

[56]Thrive Refugee Enterprise, About Us,, viewed 20November 2023. See also Ms Miranda Lauman, First Assistant Secretary—Workforce Australia for Business, DEWR, Committee Hansard, 20 September 2023, p. 55.

[57]See Department of Social Services (DSS), Submission 192.1, p. [6]; Per Capita, Submission 252, p. 42; White Box Enterprises, Submission 274, p. [3]; Mr Luke Terry, CEO, White Box Enterprises, Committee Hansard, 16 June 2023, p. 17.

[58]See, for example, BSL, Submission 249, p. 57; Per Capita, Submission 252, p. 43.

[59]See, for example, Dr Nevile, Submission136, p 11.

[60]Ms Jenny Davidson, CEO, Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC), Committee Hansard, 6December2022, p.3.

[61]Yilabara Solutions, Submission 231, p. 18.

[62]VERTO, Submission 202, p. [20].

[63]Bounce Global (2023), Activating Hope in Employment Services, pages 2, 8,, viewed 20 November 2023.

[64]Bounce Global (2023), Activating Hope in Employment Services, pages 21–26.

[65]See, for example, Success Works, Submission 139, p. [1]; WDEA Works, Submission 168, pages 4, 6; ACOSS, Submission 203, pages 30–31; NESA, Submission 260, p. 65; Ms Wendy Black, Head of Policy, Business Council of Australia (BCA), Committee Hansard, 11 August 2023, pages 16–17.

[66]See, for example, Per Capita, Submission 78, p. 7, 19–20; Professor Borland, Submission 171, p. 16; yourtown, Submission 198, p. 7, 8; Ms Black, BCA, Committee Hansard, 11 August 2023, pages 18–21.

[67]DEWR, Submission 254.4, p. [6]. See also DEWR, Submission 254, pages 71–72, 91.

[68]Queensland Government: Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT), Submission243, pages 7–8.

[69]See, for example, MAX, Submission 146, p. 25; AMES, Submission 148, p. 3; HOST International (HOST), Submission 188, p. 1; NESA, Submission 260, p. 43.

[70]See, for example, Name Withheld, Submission 137, p. [3]; ACCE, Submission 149, p. 8; Professor Borland, Submission 171, p. 16; TAG, Submission 195, pages [4–5]; Asuria People Services (Asuria), Submission 246, p. 32.

[71]Professor Mark Considine, private capacity, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2023, p. 2. See also WISE Employment, Submission 169, p. 15; Per Capita, Submission 252, p. [24].

[72]NESA, Submission 260, p. 64.

[73]See, for example, WISE Employment, Submission 169, p. 16; SAEP, Submission 199, p. 46; NESA, Submission 260, p.59; MatchWorks, Submission 263, p. 30.

[74]Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA), Submission 201, p. 7.

[75]See, for example, CVGT, Submission 106, p. 18; VERTO, Submission 202, p [6].

[76]SAEP, Submission 199, p. 45.

[77]ACOSS, Submission 203, p. 31.

[78]See, for example, The Multinational Professional Network Inc (MPN), Submission 99, p. 7; MAX, Submission 146, p. 21; SAEP, Submission 199, pages 8–9; BSL, Submission 249, p. 55; Per Capita, Submission 252, p. 40, 53–55; NESA, Submission 260, p.64.

[79]See, for example, NSEA, Submission 225, pages 3; SUDD Foundation, Submission 257, pages 2–3; Switch Start Scale, Submission 286, pages [7, 8]; Australian Enterprise Alliance (AEA), Submission 289, p. [6].

[80]See, for example, Youth Projects, Submission 141, p. 4; SYC, Submission 189, p. 14; Name Withheld, Submission 264, p. [5]; Ms Felicite Black, CEO, Women’s Health and Family Services (WHFS), Committee Hansard, 1 February 2023, p. 6; Ms Amato, CEO, AYAC, Committee Hansard, 11 August, p. 38.

[81]See NESA, Submission 260, p. 64.

[82]See, for example, Mr Brendan Bourke, Head of Client Services, yourtown, Committee Hansard, 6 June 2023, p. 19; Mr Mark Berlese, Chief Operating Officer, SRJA, Committee Hansard, 6 June 2023, p. 19; Mr Kieran Kearny, CEO, Workways Australia (Workways), Committee Hansard, 6 June 2023, page 19–20.

[83]Jobs Australia, Submission 185, p. 9; Dr Nevile, Committee Hansard, 11 August 2023, p. 10.

[85]NYCA, Submission 166, p. [6].

[86]SYC, Submission 189, p. 14.

[87]Mrs Muriel Bamblett, Committee Member, Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Organisations (Coalition of Peaks), Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 26.

[88]See Multicultural Australia, Submission 182, pages XX, XX; HOST, Submission 188, p. 4.

[89]See, for example, BSL, Submission 249, p. 50; Youth Projects, Submission 141, pages 6–7;

[90]See, for example, Campbell Page, Submission 155, p. [8–9]; NESA, Submission 260, pages 64–65.

[91]See, for example, ACOSS, Submission 203, p. 28.

[92]See, for example, Multicultural Australia, Submission 182, p. 15; Enterprise and Training Company (ETC), Submission 133, p. 6; Ms Taryn Harvey, CEO, WWAMH, Committee Hansard, 17May2023, p.50; Mr Terry, White Box Enterprises, Committee Hansard, 16June2023, p.17.

[93]MatchWorks, Submission 263, p. 11.

[94]See, for example, NYCA, Submission 166, p. [4]; WISE Employment, Submission 169, pages 4–5, 9.

[95]Joblink Plus, Submission 157, pages 8, 10. See also S Mallick et al (2022), ‘The impact of co-location employment partnerships within the Australian mental health service and policy context, a systematic review’, International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 31(5), p. 1125.

[96]SAEP, Submission 199, p. 19.

[97]See, for example, CoAct, Submission 151, p. 8.

[98]Getting Welfare to Work Research Team, Submission 191, p. 16.

[99]Youth Projects, Submission 141, p. 4.

[100]Antipoverty Centre, Submission 276, pages [6, 16].

[101]See, for example, ACOSS, Submission 203, p. 28; Per Capita, Submission 252, p.[32]; NESA, Submission 260, pages 43–44.

[102]See, for example, ACCE, Submission 149, p. 8; AKG, Submission 208, p. [3].

[103]DEWR, Submission 254, p. 103.

[104]DEWR, Submission 254.7, p. [12]. The White Paper: Working Future cites that 35.7per cent of those on income support have an exemption, but that figure includes both temporary exemptions from looking for work and those with caring-related exemptions. Commonwealth of Australia (2023), Working Future: The Australian Government's White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities, p. 146.

[105]See, for example, APM, Submission 213, p. 12; Workways Australia Ltd (Workways), Submission 239.2, p.7.

[106]See, for example, CVGT, Submission 106, pages 4–5; Professor Green et al, Submission 120, pages [9–10]; Jobs Australia, Submission 185, p. 13; AKG, Submission 208, p. [3]; APM, Submission 213, pages. 12–13; BSL, CPD and UniMelb, Submission 256, p. 13;BSL, CPD and UniMelb, Submission 256.1, p. [9]; Social Enterprise Australia (SEA), Submission 305, pages [4–5]; Dr Travers McLeod, Executive Director, BSL, Committee Hansard, 14March 2023, page 2324; Ms Annette Gill, Principal Policy Adviser, NESA, Committee Hansard, 20 September 2023, p.18.

[107]Mr Jay Connan, Cocoordinator—Research and Policy, Antipoverty Centre, Committee Hansard, 19September 2023, p. 14.

[108]ACOSS, Submission 203, pages 28–29.

[109]Ms Annabel Brown, Deputy CEO, CPD, Committee Hansard, 20September 2023, p. 5.

[110]Intermediate Labour Markets (ILMs) can also operate in private firms, government and not for profits. See BSL (2012), Exploring success for intermediate labour market social enterprises A literature review, p.3,, viewed 20November2023.

[111]See, for example, BSL (2007), Investing in People: Intermediate Labour Markets as Pathways to Employment,, viewed 20November2023; Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2000), The intermediate labour market,, viewed 20 November2023.

[112]BSL (2012), Exploring success for intermediate labour market social enterprises A literature review, p. 5.

[113]UK Government: Department for Communities and Local Government (2004), Intermediate Labour Markets: Final Report,, viewed 20 November2023.

[114]See, for example, Professor Green et al, Submission 120, p. [6]; Multicultural Australia, Submission 182, pages 13-14; SYC, Submission 189, p. 5; Workskil Australia (Workskil), Submission 196, pages 4-5, 14; Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CECFW), Submission 200, p. 6; The BUSY Group Ltd (BUSY), Submission 227, p. 3; Ms Kathryn Mandla, CEO, NESA, Committee Hansard, 20 September 2023, p. 18.

[115]MatchWorks, Submission 263, p. 20.

[116]See, for example, CoAct, Submission 151, p. 8; NESA, Submission 260, p. 29; Orygen, Submission 270, p.4.

[117]Ms MacDonald, WAAMH, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 51.

[118]WAAMH, Submission 248, p. 24. See also Ms Harvey, WAAMH, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 53.

[119]Productivity Commission (2020), Mental Health, Inquiry Report No. 95, pages 925–926,, viewed 20 November 2023.

[120]See, for example, Professor Green et al, Submission 120, p. [10]; WDEA Works, Submission 168, p. 4.

[121]AMES, Submission 148, p.4.

[122]BSL, CPD and UniMelb, Submission 256.1, p [11].

[123]BSL, Personal Support Programme evaluation: interim report, pages 50–51, publications/personal-support-programme-evaluation-interim-report/, viewed 20 November 2023.

[124]Ms Sinclair, NESA, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2023, p. 41.

[125]See, for example, CoAct, Submission 151, p. 11; SAEP, Submission 199, p. 30; APM, Submission 213, p.[13].

[126]DEWR, Submission 254, p. 217.

[127]See SSI, Submission 193, p. 4; BSL, CPD and UniMelb, Submission 256.1, p. [9].

[128]See, for example, BSL, CPD and UniMelb, Submission 256, pages 12–14.

[129]See, for example, CoAct, Submission 151, p. 3; St Vincent de Paul Society, Submission 170, p. 3; Professor Borland, Submission 171, pages 5, 16; SYC, Submission 189, p. 5; Workskil, Submission 196, p. 19; APM, Submission 213, p. 9; Dr Simone Casey, Senior Advisor—Employment, ACOSS, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 6; See Dr Lisa Fowkes, Director—Employment, SVA, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 35.

[130]Ms Gill, NESA, Committee Hansard, 20 September 2023, p. 23.

[131]See, for example, CoAct, Submission 151, p. 3; St Vincent de Paul Society, Submission 170, p. 3; Professor Borland, Submission 171, pages 5, 16; SYC, Submission 189, p. 5; Workskil, Submission 196, p. 19; APM, Submission 213, p. 9; Dr Casey, ACOSS, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 6; See Dr Fowkes, SVA, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 35.

[132]Mission Australia, Submission 190, pages 3–4.

[133]DESBT, Submission243, p. 11.

[134]NYCA, Submission 166, p. [2].

[135]Youth Connect (2013), ‘The Space In-between’: Future Policy Directions for Youth at Risk, pages 1, 5–6,, viewed 14November2023.

[136]Commonwealth of Australia (2023), Working Future: The Australian Government's White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities, pages Ix–x, 161, 212, 216.

[137]DEWR, Submission 254, p. 179.

[138]See, for example, NYCA, Submission 166, p. [5]; WDEA Works, Submission 168, p. 6; Mission Australia, Submission 190, p. 4; Workskil, Submission 196, p. 21.

[139]Orygen, Submission 270, p. 3. See also Mission Australia, Submission 190, p.4.

[140]See Bamara, Submission 214, p. 7.

[141]SVA, Submission 232, p. 10.

[142]See, for example, Youth Projects, Submission 141, pages 8–9; Mission Australia, Submission 190, p. 4; Orygen, Submission 270, p. 2; Mr Bourke, 6 June 2023, p. 18; yourtown, Committee Hansard, 6 June 2023, p. 17; Ms Diana Amato, CEO, AYAC, Committee Hansard, 11 August 2023; pages 38, 39–40; Ms Mandla, NESA, Committee Hansard, 20 September 2023, p. 23.

[143]See, for example, BSL, Submission 249, pages 44–45; BSL, CPD and UniMelb, Submission 256, p. 11; Professor Mallett, BSL, Committee Hansard, 14 March 2023, pages 25–26.

[144]ASE, Submission 258, p. 5.

[145]Youth Projects, Submission 141, pages 4, 8–10.

[146]See, for example, Youth Projects, Submission 141, pages 4–5, 10–14; NYCA, Submission 166, pages 2–3; Mission Australia, Submission 190, pages 4–6; yourtown, Submission 198, pages 5–6, 8–9; Per Capita, Submission 252, p. [37, 39–41]; Navitas, Submission 262, p. 16; Pia, volunteer, AYAC, Committee Hansard, pages 36–37; David, volunteer, AYAC, Committee Hansard, p. 37.

[147]See, for example, Pia, volunteer, AYAC, Committee Hansard, 11August2023, p. 40; Fatima, volunteer, AYAC, Committee Hansard, 11August2023, p. 40.

[148]See, for example, Youth Projects, Submission 141, pages 6, 12; WDEA Works, Submission 168, p. 6; Mission Australia, Submission 190, pages 3–4, 13; Workskil, Submission 196, p. 21.

[149]See, for example, Youth Projects, Submission 141, p. 14; Workskil, Submission 196, p. 15.

[150]Youth Projects, Submission 141, pages 15–16.

[151]Youth Projects, Submission 141, pages 6, 15.

[152]Department of Education (2014), The Subjective Wellbeing of young people in Youth Connections, pagesx–xii, xv–xvi, 31, 66, 127–128;; viewed 20 November 2023.

[153]Senate Select Committee into the Scrutiny of Government Budget Measures (2015), First Interim Report, p.23.

[154]Youth Connect (2013), ‘The Space In-between’: Future Policy Directions for Youth at Risk, p. 17,, viewed 20November2023. Citing Review of Funding for Schooling: Final Report, available via, viewed 20 November 2023.

[155]DEWR, Submission 254, p. 52. See also Australian Government Actuary, Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare: 30 June 2020 Valuation Report, 2022, page 28, 41,, viewed 4 September 2023.

[156]Name Withheld, Submission 126, p. 3.

[157]WISE Employment, Submission 169, p. 16.

[158]Ms Mandla, NESA, Committee Hansard, 20 September 2023, p. 22.

[159]DEWR, Submission 254, p. 150.

[160]Mr Corey Irlam, Acting CEO, COTA Australia, Committee Hansard, 19 September 2023, page 41, 43.

[161]DEWR, Submission 254, p. 150.

[162]DEWR, Submission 254, pages 99, 102–103.

[163]See, for example, Ms Karen Black, Submission 94, p, 3; Name Withheld, Submission 118, p. [2]; NameWithheld, Submission 130, p. [1]; Name Withheld, Submission 230, p. [1].

[164]ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (2023), Caught between Obligation and Exclusion: The Plight of Mature Age Jobseekers in Australia’s Employment Services System, Industry Report 2023/1, pages 2, 19, 23–24,, viewed 6 November 2023.

[165]Single Mother Families Australia, Submission 315, p. 2.

[166]Workskil, Submission 196, p.15.

[167]Name Withheld, Submission 230, p. [1].

[168]See, for example, Ms Karen Ho, Director General, Government of Western Australia: Department of Training and Workforce Development (DTWD), Committee Hansard, 1February 2023, p. 24.

[169]The Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO, private capacity, Committee Hansard, 19 September 2023, p. 38.

[170]Mr Carl Binnings, Group Manager—Economic Empowerment, NIAA, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, pages 14, 20.

[171]Mrs Bamblett, Coalition of Peaks, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 22.

[172]NIAA, Submission 176, p. 3. Evaluation cited is NIAA (2021), Evaluation of the Indigenous Employment Programs - Final Report,, viewed 20 November 2020. See also Minderoo Foundation Trust – Generation One, Submission 222, p. 3.

[173]Productivity Commission (2023), Review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap—Draft Report, p. 39,, viewed 20 November 2023.

[174]Productivity Commission (2023), Review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap—Draft Report, pages 40–41.

[175]Productivity Commission (2023), Review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap—Draft Report, p. 43.

[176]Productivity Commission (2023), Review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap—Draft Report, p. 43.

[177]Yilabara Solutions, Submission 231, pages 4, 6, 13, 14.

[178]See, for example, Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation (NAC), Submission 180, pages [2–4]; Yilabara Solutions, Submission 231, pages 16–17; Tribal Warrior Talent (TWT), Submission 233, p. [2]; Ms Spanos, DEWR, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 20.

[179]Mr Matthew Clarke, CEO, Yilabara Solutions, Committee Hansard, 26 May 2023, p. 47.

[180]See, for example, Community Leaders' Gathering (CLG) and the Future Leaders Advocacy Group (FLAG), Submission 173, pages 5–7, 10; HOST, Submission 188, p. 3; SSI, Submission 193, pages 3, 11; Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland (ECCQ), Submission 206, p. 3; Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), Submission 226, p. 2; Department of Home Affairs, Submission 302, p. 3.

[181]Mrs Christine Castley, Chief Executive Officer, Multicultural Australia, Committee Hansard, 6 June 2023, pages 1–2.

[182]See, for example, ECCQ, Submission 206, pages 5–8; Settlement Council of Australia (SCoA), Submission211, p. 8; RCOA, Submission 226, p. 8; Department of Home Affairs, Submission 302, p. 8; MrElijah Buol OAM, Chairperson, ECCQ, Committee Hansard, 6 June 2023, p. 3; Ms Rusera, ECCQ, Committee Hansard, 6 June 2023, p. 3.

[183]See, for example, SSI, Submission 193, p. 11; SCoA, Submission 211, pages 8–10, 11–14, 17; RCOA, Submission 226, pages 10–12, 13.

[184]Ms Sandra Elhelw Wright, CEO, SCoA, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 27.

[185]SydWest Multicultural Services, Submission 296, p. 5.

[186]RCoA, Submission 226, pages 8, 10.

[187]Ms Elhelw Wright, SCoA, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, pages 27–28.

[188]See for example, Navitas, Submission 262, pages 4, SCoA, Submission 211, pages 7, 17. See also Department of Home Affairs, Submission 302, pages 4–7.

[189]HOST, Submission 188, p. 5. HOST also made the general recommendation that Workforce Australia focus on providing ‘mainstream’ employment assistance including job matching and skills development.

[190]Multicultural Australia, Submission 182, pages 11–12.

[191]RCOA, Submission 226, p. 12.

[192]DEWR, Submission 254.7, pages [12–13].

[193]Management Governance Australia (MGA), Submission 183, p. 3.

[194]See, for example, ACCE, Submission 149, p. 9; DSS, Submission 192, p. 6; ASE, Submission 258, p. 6.

[195]Ms Kristin O'Connell, Co-coordinator—Research, Policy and Communications, Antipoverty Centre, Committee Hansard, 19 September 2023, p. 19.

[196]DSS, Submission 192, p. 7.

[197]Disability Royal Commission (2023), Final Report: Volume 7: Inclusive education, employment and housing—Part B, p. 416.

[198]BSL, Submission 249, p. 41.

[199]See, for example, ACOSS, Submission 203, p. 44; Ms Eagle, EJA, Committee Hansard, 17May 2023, p 5.

[200]WAAMH, Submission 248, p. 15.

[201]See, for example, MAX, Submission 146, p. 20; BUSY, Submission 227, p. 3; Orygen, Submission 270, p. 3.

[202]Orygen, Submission 270, p. 3.

[203]See, for example, ACOSS, Submission 203, p. 18; Ms Catherine Eagle, Principal Solicitor—Welfare Rights and Advocacy Service, Economic Justice Australia (EJA), Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 5.

[204]Mr Binnings, NIAA, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 18.

[205]Ms Jensen, DEWR, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 18.

[206]CVGT, Submission 106, p. 14. See also Mr Robert Tickner, Chair, Justice Reform Initiative (JRI) Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 43.

[207]Mr Robert Tickner, JRI, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 43. See also Asuria, Submission 246, pages 27–28.

[208]Dr Mindy Sotiri, CEO, JRI, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, p. 47.

[209]Dr Sotiri, JRI, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, pages 44–45.

[210]Dr Sotiri, JRI, Committee Hansard, 17 May 2023, pages 43–44.

[211]See, for example, CVGT, Submission 106, p. 12; Asuria, Submission 246, p. 28.

[212]Success Works, Submission 139, p. [2].

[213]See DEWR, Submission 254, pages 26–27.

[214]Asuria, Submission 246, pages 27–28.

[215]See, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (2012), Final Report on the Evaluation of the Youth Connections – Specialised Services program, p. ii;, viewed 20 November 2023.

[216]DEWR, Submission 254, pages 59, 175–176.

[217]DEWR, Submission 254, p. 49.

[218]Name Withheld, Submission 126, p. 1.

[219]Ms Brown, CPD, Committee Hansard, 20 September 2023, p. 9.

[220]Ms Laura Trengove, Government of Victoria, Committee Hansard, 20 September 2023, p. 13.

[221]Tasmanian Government, Submission 174, pages [4, 5].

[222]See, for example, ETC, Submission 133, pages 2, 3; NESA, Submission 260, p. 43; Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Submission 259, p. 5; Multicultural Australia, Submission 182, pages 10–11.

[223]APM, Submission 213, p. 15.

[224]Ms Robyn Shannon, Acting Deputy Secretary—Disability and Carers, DSS, Committee Hansard, 26May2023, pages 6, 7.

[225]See DSS, Work Assist,, viewed 20 November 2023.

[226]See, for example, Multicultural Australia, Submission 182, pages 7-8; Mr Buol AOM, ECCQ, Committee Hansard, 6June2023, p. 4.

[227]SECL, Submission 38, p. 6.

[228]See, for example, WISE Employment, Submission 169, pages 12, 14; CLG and FLAG, Submission 173, p.11; SAEP, Submission 199, p. 27; Dr Victor Quirk, Submission 209, p. 8; RCOA, Submission 226, p. 12.

[229]See, for example, VCCI, Submission 259, pages 2, 4; Dr Nevile, Submission 136, p. 7; Associate Professor Jo Ingold (Dr Ingold) and Mr Tony Carr, Submission 216, p. 3.

[230]Dr Ingold and Mr Carr, Submission 216, p. 4.

[231]See, for example, Mr Colin Williams, Submission 64, p. [2]; CVGT, Submission 106, pages 19–20.

[232]See, for example, CVGT, Submission 106, p. 20; NESA, Submission 260, p. 64; Dr Ingold, private capacity, Committee Hansard, 16 June, p. 8.

[233]See, for example, Mr Williams, Submission 64, p. [2], Jobs Australia, Submission 185, p. 19; Dr Ingold and Mr Carr, Submission 216, p. 4–5; Per Capita, Submission 252, pages [14, 25]; NESA, Submission 260, p. 65.

[234]See, for example, Mr Adam Collison, Deputy Chair, National Self-Employment Association (NSEA), Committee Hansard, 26 May 2023, p. 16; Mr Mark Van Lith, Managing Director, ABS Institute of Management, Committee Hansard, 26 May 2023, p. 22.

[235]Navitas, Submission 262, p. 18.