The Turnbull Government is taking action to safeguard Australian jobs and ensure Australians have the necessary training and skills to be job ready.
Under this Government, more Australians are now in full-time work than ever before. Since coming to office in September 2013, employment has increased by almost 600,000. A record high of over 12 million Australians are now in employment.
The Government remains acutely aware that there are more than 750,000 Australians who remain unemployed.
This is why the Government is announcing measures in the Budget to support some of the most vulnerable people in our society. These measures will focus on helping more Indigenous Australians, disadvantaged parents of young children, and older Australians into jobs.
This Budget makes the right choices to secure the better times ahead for all Australians.
For parents of young children
From 1 July 2018, the Australian Government will invest $263 million over four years to expand the ParentsNext pre-employment program. This expansion will help more parents of young children, who may be at risk of long term welfare dependency, to plan and prepare for employment by the time their children are at school.
The program will be expanded under two streams to all areas covered by jobactive employment services. Under the first stream, the program will be expanded to an additional 20 locations with a significant Indigenous population. Under a second stream, a more targeted ParentsNext program will be available in all remaining jobactive regions across Australia. ParentsNext is already operating in 10 designated Local Government Areas, and is helping parents gain skills and build networks that will help them get a job when their child is old enough to go to school.
A new $55.7 million Indigenous Employment package (over five years, commencing from 2016-17) will create better opportunities for Indigenous Australians to find work, by offering mentoring and more support for Indigenous youth; and assisting people leaving prison to quickly find work and avoid recidivism.
Many older Australians on income support are willing to work but miss out on jobs because they lack the contemporary skills and work experience employers need. In recognition of this enormous untapped potential, the Government will support those aged 50 years and over through training, work experience opportunities and better links to employers.
A new Career Transition Assistance Program will deliver a short, intensive course for mature age people looking for work to prepare for new career paths and opportunities. The Government will also expand the National Work Experience Programme, which will offer older Australians more opportunities to upskill.
Better targeting and strengthened integrity in the welfare system
The Government is committed to ensuring that all Australians with the capacity to work do so, and is introducing a new targeted job seeker compliance framework, to apply stronger penalties to persistently non-compliant individuals, whilst ensuring that those who are genuinely disadvantaged and vulnerable are supported.
A new system of escalating financial penalties for the minority of those who persistently fail to meet their participation requirements will improve the integrity of the system and ensure people do the right thing. This will ensure community expectations are met and those accepting financial support from the community are held accountable to the taxpayer.
The Turnbull Government firmly believes the best form of welfare is a job. Workforce participation is central to improving the long term wellbeing of Australians.
SIMPLER AND FAIRER COMPLIANCE
From 1 July 2018 the Government will introduce a new approach to compliance for people on income support that provides both more support to vulnerable job seekers and ensures that the small group of persistently non-compliant job seekers will face appropriate penalties.
Currently, 93 per cent of job seekers who decline work or persistently miss requirements face no real consequences because the legislation allows the penalty to be easily waived. The new framework will use a more streamlined approach for the majority of people on income support who are genuinely looking for work, while applying real penalties to the small group of persistently non-compliant people.
How it works
Failures without reasonable excuse will result in payment suspension until re-engagement, and accrual of demerit points, but no actual penalty. This initial Personal Responsibility Phase will ensure individuals have a greater level of accountability over their own mutual obligations.
If a person accrues four demerits in six months they will enter a three-strike Intensive Compliance Phase, in which they will face escalating penalties. They will;
- lose 50 per cent of their fortnightly payment for their first strike without reasonable excuse;
- lose 100 per cent of their fortnightly payment for their second strike; and
- payment cancellation for four weeks for their third strike.
In either phase, any job seeker who refuses work without a valid reason will have their payment cancelled for four weeks, in recognition of the seriousness of this failure.
To ensure that genuine job seekers who are simply having difficulty meeting their requirements do not enter the Intensive Compliance Phase, their provider will assess their capability and requirements after their third demerit, and the Department of Human Services will also do so after their fourth.
At either point, if individuals are found to be unable to meet their requirements because of some underlying capability issue, those requirements will be adjusted and they will remain in the Personal Responsibility Phase.
A job seeker in the Intensive Compliance Phase will not incur any penalties if they meet all their mutual obligation requirements. Those who remain fully compliant for three months will return to the Personal Responsibility Phase. This will provide a strong incentive for individuals to change their behaviour.
Support for genuine job seekers
Some people need a little more help to be able to meet their requirements. The new framework provides for more personalised assessments to protect vulnerable job seekers by ensuring their requirements are suitable and achievable.
Genuine job seekers will be given greater flexibility and visibility of their requirements, as well as more involvement in recording their attendance. This will reduce the chance of job seekers being unfairly penalised by administrative errors.
All individuals with mutual obligations will be covered by the new compliance system, with the exception of Community Development Programme participants, who will continue to operate under the existing compliance framework while stakeholder consultations are undertaken on a new model.
The framework is expected to apply to around 1.22 million job seekers per year. For approximately 1.14 million of these job seekers, the new framework will result in no financial penalties.
The simpler and fairer compliance framework is expected to produce a saving of $204.7 million.
ACCELERATING INDIGENOUS EMPLOYMENT
A $55.7 million Indigenous Employment package (over five years from 2016-17) will create better opportunities for Indigenous Australians to find work, accelerating progress toward Closing the Gap between employment outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The package includes a number of ongoing measures to increase the number of Indigenous Australians engaged in the labour market.
Commencing from 1 January 2018, the Closing the Gap – Employment Services package will include:
Place Based Approaches
- Community-delivered jobactive employment services will be trialled by the Yarrabah community in Queensland, where there are approximately 700 Indigenous job seekers.
- The community-delivered services will have more Indigenous staff, a better understanding of the challenges facing Indigenous job seekers and will build the capacity of the Yarrabah community to assist those looking for work.
- The pilot will begin on 1 January 2018 and cost $5 million over five years.
Mentoring for all Indigenous job seekers
- Pre and post-employment mentoring support will be made available to all Indigenous participants in jobactive (approximately 76,000) to help them find and retain a job.
- Indigenous participants in the extended and refocused ParentsNext program will be able to access mentoring through a new participation fund.
- An additional 4,600 Indigenous Australians aged 15-21 will have access to the Transition to Work service each year, which provides more intensive support and coaching.
- These measures will begin on 1 January 2018 and cost $33.2 million over five years.
Prison to Work
- The Prison to Work program will provide Indigenous prisoners with access to in-prison employment services.
- This will be a targeted service delivered by specialist organisations with experience in working with Indigenous Australians and the criminal justice system.
- Participants will receive a comprehensive assessment of their employment barriers, develop a transition plan, and receive a facilitated transfer to their post-prison employment services provider.
- Subject to negotiation with states and territories, the Prison to Work program will be implemented progressively from 1 January 2018, and cost $17.6 million over five years.
- jobactive will be boosted to deliver up-front intensive employment services to Indigenous job seekers, including:
- An increase in the Indigenous wage subsidy from $6,500 to $10,000, to be funded from the existing wage subsidy pool;
- The establishment of Indigenous community-based work experience projects with meaningful career pathways.
- The jobactive Star Ratings system will be amended so that greater emphasis is placed on the delivery of Indigenous employment outcomes.
- Relevant Government departments will collaborate to align the delivery of services between Indigenous training and employment programs funded by the Indigenous Advancement Strategy and mainstream employment services.
ParentsNext to be expanded nationally
From 1 July 2018, ParentsNext will expand from its existing 10 locations to all jobactive regions across Australia, at a cost of $263 million over four years. This expansion will be delivered in two streams. One stream will include an enhanced service offering and be extended to 20 locations with high numbers of Parenting Payment recipients who are Indigenous Australians. The other stream will constitute a more targeted ParentsNext program that will be available in all jobactive regions across Australia.
The expansion is estimated to assist an additional 7,600 Indigenous parents annually.
PARENTSNEXT – NATIONAL EXPANSION
The Australian Government understands that raising children and ensuring they get a good start in life is critical. However, combining this with preparing for employment can be challenging. This is why the Government is expanding the successful ParentsNext program.
ParentsNext is a pre-employment program which connects eligible parents of young children to services in their local community to help them plan and prepare for employment by the time their children are at school.
- ParentsNext will be expanded at a total cost of $263.0 million over the next four years, which will assist around 68,000 parents each year.
- From 1 July 2018, at a cost of $113.0 million, ParentsNext will be expanded with an enhanced service offering to 20 additional locations with high numbers of Indigenous Parenting Payment recipients, mostly in regional Australia.
- From 1 July 2018, at a cost of $150.1 million, a more targeted ParentsNext will be rolled out to all remaining areas covered by jobactive, so that the most disadvantaged parents at risk of long-term welfare dependency will benefit from the program.
- Participation in the ParentsNext program will be compulsory for eligible parents on the Parenting Payment.
Greater support for parents to prepare for employment
- ParentsNext currently operates in 10 locations and is helping more than 12,600 parents to identify their goals, combine work preparation with care responsibilities, increase educational qualifications, address barriers to participation, develop skills needed to get a job and learn about available community services such as child care assistance.
- Extending an enhanced service offering under ParentsNext to areas with high numbers of Indigenous Parenting Payment recipients will provide intensive support to help address Indigenous parents’ greater level of disadvantage, boost participation in the labour market and help achieve the Closing the Gap employment targets.
- Further expanding the program to all jobactive areas will help to reduce welfare dependency and child poverty, whilst increasing female employment participation.
- While most employment services are not available for Parenting Payment recipients until their youngest child is six years old, ParentsNext intervenes earlier by supporting eligible families with young children to become job-ready and find work faster.
JOBS FOR MATURE AGE AUSTRALIANS
To help mature age unemployed people find and keep a job, the Government will increase support for training and reskilling, provide more work experience opportunities and build better links to employers.
Many older Australians on income support are willing to work but miss out on jobs because they lack the contemporary skills and work experience employers need. These measures will address this barrier, helping more mature age people find and keep a job.
Unemployed Australians, particularly those 50 years and over, will benefit from increased services and resources to help them find work and move off welfare. There will also be greater incentives for employers to offer work experience opportunities.
The measures to commence from 1 July 2018 include:
Career Transition Assistance
- Career Transition Assistance will provide more opportunities for mature age job seekers to reskill.
- The program will deliver a short, intensive course which will assist participants to identify and apply for local employment opportunities. This will be followed by ICT training where necessary.
- This program will commence in five trial regions across Australia.
National Work Experience Programme
- The National Work Experience Programme (NWEP) will be expanded to provide the necessary practical experience required for mature age Australians to find work.
- Jobseekers will be eligible for NWEP if they are receiving income support and are registered with a jobactive, Transition to Work or Disability Employment Services provider.
- New incentives will be offered to jobactive and Transition to Work providers as well as host businesses who participate in the NWEP.
Pathway to Work pilots
- A series of industry-based pilots will be established in selected growth industries and/or large infrastructure projects.
- Up to ten pilots will be developed to create additional job opportunities for job seekers on income support, including mature age and people with disability.