Job Network is failing the long-term unemployed

August 2 2004 - The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) has called for total overhaul of the Australian Federal Government's Job Network employment services.

Supporting a report released last week by the Chifley Foundation and Professors Mark Considine and Dan Finn, the BSL said the current system is failing Australia's most disadvantaged job seekers.

"The government's own evaluation two years ago showed the system was doing little to help long-term unemployed people to get work," Dr Stephen Ziguras, BSL research and policy manager said.

"Changes since then, while well-motivated, seem to have made things even worse.

"Job Network staff are now forced to push thousands of job seekers through a rigid schedule of activities and appointments regardless of whether this is what they need or not.

"Staff are also forced to spend a large part of their time dealing with red tape rather than helping unemployed people."

According to Dr Ziguras, the BSL's experience has shown that there are far more effective ways to help long-term unemployed people get work.

"It's not just a matter of harassing people to apply for more and more jobs, it's about investing in people, supporting them, giving them work experience and access to accredited training.

"Just by investing $100,000 in the first stage of our job creation program in inner Melbourne public housing communities, engaging with the residents and building trust, almost 100 people have new skills, confidence and work after long periods of unemployment.

"We estimate the savings in welfare costs at around $1.2 million.

"The BSL's work with individuals who have multiple barriers to employment has shown this is a far more effective and efficient approach and the paper released today highlights some of the same directions.

"We hope the ALP and the government pay serious attention to the report."