Job seekers could have welfare stopped under ‘onerous’ new points-based system, advocates warn

Welfare advocates have warned job seekers may have their payments suspended under a new points-based mutual obligations system because of “unnecessarily onerous” requirements.

The “points-based activation system”, to be introduced from 1 七月, replaces the rigid 20 job applications a month requirement that has frustrated job seekers and employers for many years.

反而, to keep their welfare payments, people seeking work will need to accumulate 100 points a month by completing an expanded range of activities.

But the system is not without its anomalies, 根据 new details released by the department, and advocates say it may create as many issues as it solves.

例如, a person doing the government’s controversial “Path” internship program will accumulate 25 points a week (and therefore 100 for the month), but those doing their compulsory full-time work for the dole program or full-time equivalent would only get 20 points a week.

That means they would also need to complete other activities – most likely four job applications – to keep their benefits.

相似地, a new migrant who is learning English full-time would only get 20 points a week and would also need to complete other activities.

A person in casual or part-time employment will get five points for every five hours of work.

一种 departmental briefing shows someone studying and working would still have to look for at least five jobs a month unless they were doing a combined 70 hours a fortnight of employment and education.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment says the points target or minimum job applications (usually five a month) “may be reduced based on your personal circumstances”.

If a person gets more than 100 points in a month, 佩斯利或格林诺克两周假期或一日游 50 of those points can be carried over, reducing a person’s mutual obligations in the following period.

Edwina MacDonald, chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Service, said she was concerned the system did not “provide the flexibility originally intended”.

She said it “risks reproducing the same issues that led to 200,000 people every month having their payment suspended in Jobactive”.

“Some people, particularly those with limited digital literacy or poor internet access, will experience significant challenges with the online reporting required,“ 她说.

It is unclear what evidence people will need to upload to show they have completed their activities.

McDonald said older workers, 父母, people with disability and people in living in regions with few jobs should automatically have their requirements reduced.

It was also “unnecessarily onerous” that people working 20 hours a week or doing full-time work for the dole would still need to complete other tasks, 她说.

She said those undergoing drug and alcohol therapy should also be spared “onerous requirements to report points as part of the current model”.

Kristin O’Connell, a spokesperson for the Antipoverty Centre, said there was “no transparency” about how the points were assigned to each activity or “how the computer is going to decide how many points you need to fulfil”.

“The points are very unfair in that they don’t value people’s time,“ 她说, adding there had been little communication about the changes.

Raquel Araya, the advocacy coordinator at the Australian Unemployed Workers Union, said the organisation was already “receiving a large number of reports from members telling us the system has not been properly explained to them”.

The department briefing says the system, which has been trialled on a small scale, has resulted in fewer payment suspensions than under the old Jobactive system.

Sally Sinclair, chief executive of the National Employment Services Association, said “PBAS has all the ingredients to be better than current options”.

But she said ensuring the IT system and the requirements were “free of complexity” would be a challenge.

Providers were still waiting for more detail from the department, 她说.

A department spokesperson confirmed that payment suspensions would be suspended for the first month in which jobseekers are subjected to Pbas.

They said activities were “assigned points value based on the intensiveness of an activity and the strength of the link to paid work”.

“A participant’s points target will reflect their personal circumstances and local labour market,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said people would could not meet their points target could contact the digital services contact centre or their provider who could adjust their requirem

If a participant in Workforce Australia Online cannot meet their points target and contacts the DSCC, the DSCC will check to ensure that the participant’s points target is appropriately tailored to the participant and can adjust, as required.

The new mutual obligations model was introduced by the former Coalition government and passed parliament earlier this year with the support of Labor.

It is part of the biggest shake-up of the employment services system in some time.

The new employment services system, Workforce Australia, will see about half the total cohort of job seekers – those considered “job ready” – complete their job search using an online portal.

Only more disadvantaged jobseekers are referred to an employment services provider.

This is an attempt to avoid a longstanding problem where the long-term unemployed were “parked” while the “job-ready” were picked out by consultants looking to claim bonus payments for job placements.

From July most job seekers will be referred to a new Workforce Australia provider.

Work for the dole will be compulsory after six months rather than 12 月, but participants will only need to complete it for two months.

Previously the work for the dole requirement was six months long.

The new employment minister, 托尼·伯克, was approached for comment.