Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Preparing for work a success

“The Federal Government’s focus on jobs and preparing job seekers for work is proving a success,” Minister for Community Services Larry Anthony said today.

“And with the new Preparing for Work Agreements, which started last Monday, the results are only going to get better as job seekers are kept informed of their obligations and even more focussed on finding work,” said Mr Anthony.

“This Government is helping people who receive unemployment payments become more effective in their job seeking efforts.”

Fewer people claimed Newstart Allowance in May than at any time in the last nine years. The number of long-term recipients has fallen by six per cent since January.

“The Government has created 712,000 jobs since coming into office and the unemployment rate is at its lowest for a decade – 6.7 per cent and forecast to fall to 6.25 per cent by this time next year with the Preparing for Work initiative.

“This will be the lowest rate in a quarter of a century,” Mr Anthony said.

“Preparing for Work, which started in October 1999, is helping ensure only genuine job seekers receive assistance.”

Preparing for Work helps job seekers get back to work by getting their focus right. This is done by:

  • Assessing how Centrelink can help the job seeker;
  • Agreeing on a work plan listing activities job seekers can undertake to find work;
  • Referring job seekers to programs that can help improve their chances of finding work;
  • Personal follow up – the same Centrelink staff member will regularly look at the job seeker’s progress.

“More Job Seeker Diaries are being issued and Centrelink is checking with more employers to ensure more people meet their responsibilities to their fellow Australians,” Mr Anthony said.

“Centrelink is also improving the quality of its reviews, aiming to catch only those rorting the system or not fulfilling their mutual obligations so that we can help those who genuinely need help.”

Since Preparing for Work was introduced:

  • Centrelink has tripled the number of checks it conducts with employers, up to 25,079;
  • A total of 92,085 (10 per cent more) job seekers declared earnings between April 1999 and April 2000;
  • 63,239 Job Seeker Diaries were issued in March 2000, compared to 42,959 issued in March 1999, a 47 per cent increase; and
  • 7,185 job seekers were breached in March 2000, an increase of 122 per cent since October 1999 when Preparing for Work was introduced, for not meeting their obligations.

“These figures show Centrelink has improved its assessment of job seeker circumstances and refers them to programs that will help them return to work,” said Mr Anthony.

“Job seekers have benefited from the Preparing for Work Agreement since last Monday.

“When a job seeker applies for a Newstart or Youth Allowance they now need to enter into this agreement.

“Agreements will be regularly reviewed to ensure job seekers remain focussed on getting a job and fulfilling their mutual obligations.

“With Government action from day one to help job seekers back into the workforce, rather than letting them slide into the ranks of the long-term unemployed, we are doing more for job seekers than Labor ever did,” Mr Anthony said.