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December 6, 2021

Work for the Dole participants treated like ‘criminals on parole’

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Image Australian Unemployed Workers Union

Paul Bibby

Local Work for the Dole participants are being treated like ‘criminals on parole’ under tough new rules introduced by the federal government, community organisations say.

The organisations say that the strict penalties that apply to people who miss a Work for the Dole shift since July 1 have left participants in a state of constant worry about losing their benefits.

Exacerbating this is the fact that the new online system for clocking on for a Work for the Dole shift has been plagued by technical problems, increasing anxiety among participants and frustrating the co-ordinators who run the program at the local level.

One of these co-ordinators, Cherie Bromley from the Byron Community Centre, said the new regime was unfair to participants and failed to take their personal circumstances into consideration.

‘They’re basically being treated like people who are on parole – as if they’ve committed a crime or something,’ Ms Bromley said.

‘If you get sick and miss a shift, or if your car breaks down and you can’t afford the repairs, you could potentially be in big trouble,’ she said.

‘They need to be more flexible and more aware that these people are under stress, more aware of people’s circumstances.’

The new measures are part of the government’s ‘Targeted Compliance Framework’, which came into force on July 1 as part of a crackdown on welfare recipients.

In addition to the new penalties, the minimum number of hours that welfare recipients aged 18 to 30 are required to complete has been increased from 15 to 25.

Dept of Jobs

There is also a new system of clocking on and off, which requires recipients to access a code for each shift and enter it into the system via a phone app.

The Department of Jobs says the new system is fairer and more efficient.  

However, locals working at the coalface have described it as ‘rigid’ and ‘punitive’.

A representative from one of the community organisations involved in the program said she was concerned about the new penalty regime.

‘I am worried about how people are going to go with the new reporting arrangements and the penalties in place,’ said the representative, who asked not to be named.

‘For those people who have kids or who have to come in by public transport, it’s going to potentially be a challenge for them to clock on in time.’

‘I mean – if they’re trying to get to work by 8.30am on public transport around here… Ha!’

Ms Bromley said the new system for clocking on had also been problematic.

‘I don’t know one work for the dole person who has successfully downloaded the app,’ she said.

‘It’s particularly hard for older people who don’t have smartphones or don’t know how to use them very well. You basically have to have a smartphone to be part of the program.’

But a spokesperson for the department of jobs strenuously defended the new regime, saying that it was simpler, fairer, and more flexible than the old system.

Financial penalties would not apply to job seekers who were ‘genuinely trying to meet their requirements,’ she said.

‘Generally job seekers will not face a lasting financial penalty until their sixth failure without a valid reason.

‘Also, before they face any lasting penalty for repeatedly not meeting their requirements, job seekers will be assessed first by their employment services provider and then by Centrelink to ensure that their requirements are reasonable for their circumstances.’

In answer to the argument that the new rules were too rigid, the spokesperson claimed instead that job seekers would, in fact, have more flexibility.

‘The recently introduced online diary will allow job seekers to… let their providers know in advance about restrictions affecting their ability to meet the requirements,’ she said.     

‘Further, if job seekers are having trouble meeting their requirements owing to their personal circumstances, new arrangements will identify these issues before the job seeker faces lasting financial penalties.’

She said participants who did not have a smartphone could instead ‘ask their provider or activity supervisor to record their attendance for them’.


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21 COMMENTS

  1. The entire Australian government stands in abuse of the office it holds and should be dismissed. It is an anti-humanitarian joke populated by globalist puppets and an affront against everything it means to be a decent and moral human being.

  2. The Work for the Dole program is and always been punitive. The winners are politicians who gain votes from being able to suggest to the public that they are tough on dole bludgers. Interesting name Work for the Dole. The only word that goes with dole is bludger. The perfect match politically.
    Helping out the unemployed could be so much better. A decent program would have education and training and provide qualifications and pay people – when they do work. But not WfD. It has almost no training aspect because it is not designed to help the unemployed. It is there to primarily punish them. Sure, some get social intetaction and may by luck meet some good people, but that is not the norm.

  3. Work for the dole, undermines all the employment and industrial reforms fought and won over the last 150 years.

    The principle of a fair days work for a fair days pay is just thrown away.

    It is exploitation by which organisations are able to retain conscripted cheap and unprotected labour,

    Here are the greatest profligate companies and politicians just ripping this country off exploiting the poorest of citizens with what is unconstitutional ‘work for the dole’ scheme.

    Maybe our leaders need an epiphany and grow some compassion

  4. Shane Its a Liberal National Government now and It was them that Brought in this ruling to Get people Motivated That would otherwise be doing nothing for their whole lives

    • Roger
      Excuse me Work for the Dole is an absolute joke. You say it is to get people motivated who else would do nothing for their whole lives. How dare you. Most people doing work for the dole are developing their own skills to try and find employment and self-employment and pretending if they weren’t at work for the dole they would be doing nothing is an absolute lie propagated by narrow-minded people such as yourself. Work for the Dole is just for political propaganda and does nothing to make anyones life better. Also work for the dole organisations such as the Salvation Army are running a scam. They get free goods free labour and pay no taxes. The money should be spent on real training and creating real jobs not generic nonsense.

  5. I dont know too many people who get paid for not turning up to work.
    And I’d be happy to pay at least minimum wages.
    Social security is there as a safety net. Its not meant to be a way of life.

    • But you’re not happy to “pay at least minimum wages” to work for the dole people Roger. Otherwise you would be protesting against their low pay. For the ‘work for the dole’ people can work up to 25 hours a week, or 50 hours a fortnight for $ 540 pay. That is $10:48 an hour. The minimal wage in Australia is $17:70 And in this context you say, “Social security is there as a safety net.” How is it a safety net when it is illegally almost half the minimal wage?

      You have built a case to paternally say, “Its not meant to be a way of life” but if it is as the government says, “working” for the dole, – working for a wage, – you appear to be supporting a wage amount that is (in spirit) not only illegal, but offensive to survival.

      Its hard to know how to respond to people who make for quick philosophies as you have, based on incorrect fact. Other than to recognize that it is this kind of ignorant reasoning that one has to deal with in order to try and defend the down trodden.

      • Bro. I can work up to 60 hours a fortnite and get $310 for that. That’s $31 a day or $5 an hour. But that’s okay because the government are giving me an extra 50c a month for fuel money.

      • Yes Dominic – well said – these people work a full week ie 7.30 – 4pm. People who judge these people take note – work out the figures on how much their earning on that. If an employer was paying that they would be in trouble. It is not a sentence – these people have not committed a crime and anybody can lose a job or have something happen in their life that causes loss. ‘When you judge another you do not define them -you define yourself’!

  6. “Politicians who voted for all these inhumane measures should be ashamed of themselves, the money the unemployed receives doesn’t cover their living costs – living below the poverty line. Then these pollies expect that the unemployed can afford to do mutual obligation, when they already contrubute in their own way to society everyday.

    “Current govt policies are insulting to the unemployed’s intelligence, and their dignity is attached for no reasonable reason.

    “I think pollies should have to read through all the United Nations human rights before they vote, cause they’ve really in breach of them at the moment, and the High Court should be on top of this and speaking out about the govt’s unlawful stances.

    “Mutual Obligation is Nazi in nature and should be shown up for what it is, ‘an afront to common decency.

    “Australians, these unemployed are your sisters, brothers, aunties, uncles, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, and you may as pin them to a cross, because the current system is killing them slowly – if not fast

    “If i was a human rights lawyer i would be looking to take on a group action against the current governments social security policies because they are doing more harm than good… because there is no way anymore should be expected from an unemployed person, because its hard enough to just get through the day without more expectations and stress on approx $1000 a month income.

    “All Australian’s whether working or not should be up in arms, and start to stand behind the unemployed and give the respect they deserve – if you are unemployed your are unemployed – give the person a break, it’s hard enough already without further unreasonable expectations.

    “Please help raise awareness about this emotional and psychological abuse and tweet, call or write the Prime Minister to complain.

    “The longer this goes on the worst for your immediate or distant family members. This isn’t someone else’s problem, it is all of our problem and it needs to be remedied humanely asarp.

    … to be contined… lobbyco.org

  7. Money designed to be a safety net for the vulnerable and the down and out is now to be used to travel to WFD sites along with portable lunches and water for the day. $5 that will buy bread and milk for one week now must be used to buy petrol to travel one way for one day for those that live a few kms out of town. Disgusting behaviour from the Australian Govt towards innocent citizens.

  8. Why is the government paying $20,000 ( yes twenty thousand dollars) to otganizations ( only charities and government hosts) for each wfd applicant for dodgy jobs, instead of spending my tax money on training people?
    This government is disgusting and Labor is also silent in this scam.

  9. I am 63 years old and not healthy but forced to do work for the dole, and I am asked to do heavy lifting work which is over 20kg at the workplace, this is abuse.

    This government will be stepping down on next election because they will lose a lot of votes from the old unemployed people.

    • James – Go to AUWU (Australian Unemployed Workers Union) website to see your rights on ‘Work for the Dole’ – you have alternatives – you can do volunteer work for 30 hours a fortnight. You can choose any ‘Not for Profit’ organisation. Choose one that doesn’t involve physical labour. You shouldn’t be doing ‘Work for the Dole’ in your age bracket – someone is giving you the wrong information.
      Hope this helps.

  10. Currently employed as a WFTD Supervisor. Quite proud of my guys, they have turned up regularly and done a great job with the tasks. Fantastic teamwork and they have supported each other. There have however been issues with this program compared to the other three programs that I have supervised.

    How do the participants with little to no computer skills get on to the My Gov website to put the codes in? They are supposed to do it on their phones but most of them have no data let alone the My Gov app or know how to install it. The codes provided for the daily activity for the last week have not worked due to some backend server issue. The employment agencies have cut participants off from their benefits for any reason at all. Closed for a public holiday – oh you didn’t attend, cut off.

    This happened to my entire group for both the AFL Grand Final and the Melbourne Cup. Host workplace was closed for two weeks over the Christmas / New Year period, all participants were cut off again for non-attendance. They have also been cut off for attending courses, attending court, doctors appointments and even meetings in the job agency’s own office – which are not supposed to be scheduled for the time they are supposed to be attending the activity. And yes they gave their employment agencies advance notice but were cut off anyway.

  11. Well next time at the ballot box, cast your vote against the major three headed snake (Lib, Lab and Greens) and put One Nation, Conservatives and or any other likewise Independent ahead. Otherwise you (and countless other 1000’s) are going to potentially keep getting shafted year in year out. The minor parties might not have enough to win the election, but having effective senators in the cross bench will help establish the balance of powers.

    Oh and don’t think Labor or the Greens will offer better solutions. WFTD was still a compulsory activity, essentially renamed ‘Work Experience’ phase when it was under Dudd and Dillard back in the day.

    A $1 billion yearly program which only sees a less than 5% return of jobseekers gaining employment.

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