Refugee Council of Australia
Woman holding ladder in shop

Not Working: Experiences of refugees and migrants with Jobactive

Technology and disrepect

Overuse of, and lack of support for use of, technology

Jobactive has introduced requirements for people to report, view appointments and apply for jobs online. Providers seem unaware of the lack of experience many refugees and migrants may have with this technology.

Many refugees, for instance, have been living in refugee camps for many years and have never had access to this kind of technology, let alone to search for jobs. Rather than supporting people in using this technology, Jobactive providers instead are leaving people to navigate this technology themselves with devastating consequences.

Many of the case studies from Fairfield LGA reported that the requirement to look for a job online has left them demoralised and confused.

The system assumes that clients have knowledge [of] technology and they can read English and can get information for themselves, rather than being there to help them to navigate the system.

– A Swahili-speaking refugee from Fairfield LGA

Being treated with disrespect

The Fairfield case studies included many hostile interactions with staff from Jobactive providers. Participants reported feeling disrespected and stigmatised and often threatened with having their welfare benefits suspended. Dealing with clients in this way, especially clients of a refugee and migrant background, only serves to make the jobseeker less confident in their ability to find a job and in the entire settlement process.

They don’t treat me well; the caseworker when he interviews me stated that I just arrived in Australia to get easy money from the first interview… upset me a lot. He did not help me with my job plan he just judged me.

– A newly arrived humanitarian arrival from Syria, Fairfield LGA

These interactions undermine the trust and rapport needed to negotiate and plan a meaningful employment outcome, especially for those who have previously experienced trauma. These negative interactions are especially unhelpful for someone who is new and unfamiliar with the Australian workplace.

Staff of my Jobactive provider routinely treat me with disrespect. For instance, they once told me that my clothes and shoes are very dirty and that I looked shabby. I felt ashamed and was unhappy and very angry with the provider but I could not do anything due to my dependence on Centrelink payment and my limited English proficiency.

— A 32-year-old Karen humanitarian arrival from Fairfield LGA

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