29 August 2020, The Saturday Paper, Rick Morton. Access the full article here.
Government policies have seen the ‘unemployment industry’ paid millions during the pandemic, while jobless rates soar.
When Employment Minister Michaelia Cash approved an advance payment worth more than $100 million for private job agencies to cover administration fees early in the coronavirus outbreak, it would mark only the beginning of a lucrative payday for the sector during the pandemic.
As the rest of the country descended into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the government made it easier for these agencies, known as Jobactive providers, to claim bonus “outcome” payments, fees and other rewards for the work of “servicing” the unemployed.
Requirements for pay slips to verify job payments were removed, and providers were paid bonuses even if work was interrupted by periods of self-isolation or complications from the health crisis.
The influx of funds, however, did not stop there. Conservative estimates drawn from the government’s own data and payment schedules suggest private job agencies have been handed at least $500 million to date during the pandemic.
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.