Building a world-class employment participation system for Australia
Australia is a world leader in employment participation according to a report released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) today.
The Activating Jobseekers: How Australia Does it report provides an overview and assessment of Australia’s policies to tackle welfare dependency and unemployment.
Its findings confirm the Australian Government’s efforts to increase workforce participation are helping to build and maintain a strong, stable workforce.
The report notes that Australia’s benefit-dependency rate is one of the lowest among those OECD countries that provide a broad entitlement to disability, unemployment and social assistance benefits.
Australia also has one of the highest employment rates and lowest unemployment rates among G7 and OECD G20 countries.
The Australian Government has put a focus on increasing workforce participation, particularly for those groups that generally have lower than average participation rates, such as people with disability, seniors, women and Indigenous Australians.
People with disability
Our recent reforms to the Disability Support Pension (DSP) aim to improve the quality of assessment and support people with disability who have some work capacity into employment.
These measures have worked to reduce the growth in numbers of DSP recipients since their commencement in 2010.
We have also improved work rules for DSP recipients, allowing recipients to work up to 30 hours a week without their payment being suspended or cancelled, subject to the income test.
In addition, new participation requirements for DSP recipients under the age of 35 have helped people with disability build their capacity and overcome barriers to work.
In the past 12 months more than 140,000 age pensioners have benefited from the Australian Government’s Seniors Work Bonus, by being able to keep more of their pension when they worked.
The improved Work Bonus began on 1 July 2011 and allows people who receive the Age Pension to earn up to $6,500 per year more without affecting their pension.
It has meant more seniors are able to keep working or take up paid work, which is good news for senior Australians, business and the Australian economy.
In 2010, the overall participation rates for women in Australia were eight points above the weighted OECD average.
Employment rates for mothers with at least one child aged less than six and for lone parents have been increasing, but remain significantly below the OECD average.
The Government’s historic Paid Parental Leave scheme, which began on 1 January 2011, is designed to increase women’s workforce participation.
The scheme provides up to 18 weeks of Government-funded Paid Parental Leave paid at the rate of the national minimum wage (currently $606 per week before tax).
Paid Parental Leave aims to increase the participation in paid work of mothers with young children, both before they have children and between pregnancies.
Since its introduction more than 237,000 working mums have applied for Paid Parental Leave.
Early findings from an evaluation of Paid Parental Leave show that 95 per cent of working women now have access to paid parental leave, either from the Government, their employer or both, compared with about only half of working women before the introduction of the Government’s scheme.
In addition to the introduction of Paid Parental Leave, the government has also increased the Child Care Rebate to 50 per cent of out of pocket costs, helping with the affordability of quality child care.
And from 1 January next year the Government will deliver two weeks Dad and Partner Pay to provide support for dads and same-sex partners to stay at home with mum and the new baby.
The report highlights the Government’s ambitious Closing the Gap targets, including our commitment to halve the gap in employment outcomes within a decade, and our Indigenous Economic Development Strategy.
The Australian Government is committed to improving employment participation for Indigenous Australians.
From 1 July 2013, the new $1.5 billion Remote Jobs and Communities Program will provide a more integrated and flexible approach to employment and participation services for people living in remote areas of Australia.
The Remote Jobs and Communities Program will see jobseekers assisted by a single provider with a permanent presence in their region, ensuring they are getting better support to get the skills needed to get a job.
It will also ensure people who are not working are participating in activities that contribute to developing strong and sustainable communities.
It will provide a single point of contact for job seekers and employers and will have a greater focus on adapting services to local requirements and opportunities.