“Mutual” obligations must be abolished.

(Un)mployment services have a long history of failing unemployed people, funnelling billions in public money to poverty profiteers who do little more than harm people on Centrelink payments. Evidence shows they do not help people, and are instead a barrier to work.

The employment services system is viewed as a rort by many, but to those who must engage with it, it is closer to a nightmare. GetUp, the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union, Anti-Poverty Network (SA), Single Mother Families Australia, Anglicare and a number of other advocacy groups share the Antipoverty Centre’s position that compulsory participation requirements for people on welfare payments, known as “mutual” obligations”, should be abolished.

Our vision is for a voluntary, public sector employment service that enables locally-determined employment programs and responses to unemployment. We call for an income-first approach to employment, in recognition of the role that poverty plays in holding us back and acting as a barrier to work.

This project is the culmination of two years of deep engagement with people in the welfare system, led by people in the welfare system. The Punishment for Profit report and the information published on this website are the product of hundreds of thoughtful, insightful responses to two surveys related to employment services, along with many formal and informal interviews, workshops and collaborations.

We hope you will join us in giving the stories and messages within the time and respect they deserve, and take action to help us dismantle “mutual” obligations and the privatised employment services system.

Employment services survey

The Punishment for Profit report is based on hundreds of responses to surveys conducted by the Antipoverty Centre. This research is ongoing. If you are in Workforce Australia, Disability Employment Services or a similar program, we welcome any information you are able to share about your experiences.

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