Refugee Council of Australia
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Not Working: Experiences of refugees and migrants with Jobactive

Barriers to Jobactive

The Jobactive program

From 1 July 2015, Jobactive replaced the former Job Services Australia program (JSA). Jobactive is the Australian Government’s main program that aims to assist Australians into the workforce. Jobactive connects job seekers with employers through a network of Jobactive providers in over 1,700 locations across Australia.

Under the program, the Department of Human Services refers and assesses job seekers who receive Centrelink benefits and are obliged to apply for jobs and undertake training. Other features of the program include:

  • Penalties that are applied for failing to comply with its requirements, including the suspension of Centrelink payments if people fail to report or miss appointments
  • Job seekers are streamed into different levels of support, according to a classification instrument
  • Job seekers under ‘Mutual Obligation Requirements’ are required to participate in Work for the Dole programs to continue receiving support, and
  • The number of job applications required to continue receiving benefits has increased.

JSA, the previous government employment program, had a limited number of specialist providers targeting people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

There were even fewer JSA providers with special expertise or funding for an accountability framework that serviced refugees. A significant change under Jobactive has been the loss of those specialist employment providers.

All participants in FMI’s research indicated a strong desire to find employment, develop and enhance their economic participation and contribute to Australia. However, refugees and migrants face a range of structural, social and institutional barriers to gaining meaningful employment.

This section outlines the key areas of feedback identified by participants and in RCOA’s wider consultations regarding the Jobactive program. The first part focuses on issues caused or made worse by the introduction of Jobactive, namely:

  • Lack of specialised service
  • Choosing between learning English and looking for work
  • Streaming and the Job Seeker Classification Instrument (JSCI)
  • Compliance measures and implications
  • Limited support with resumes and interview skills
  • Job Plans and lack of understanding of rights and responsibilities
  • Under-use of interpreters and lack of translated materials
  • Inappropriate Work for the Dole placements
  • Over-reliance on, and lack of support for use of, technology to look for work, and
  • Being treated with disrespect.

The second part of this section examines longstanding issues that continue to be reflected in the Jobactive program, namely:

  • Lack of opportunities to attain relevant Australian work experience
  • Difficulties in gaining recognition for prior qualifications and experiences, and
  • An emphasis on de-skilling rather than upskilling.

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