15 June 2021, The Conversation, Ruud Gerards and Ricardo Welters. Access the full article here.

Under so-called mutual obligation rules, the Australian government requires the unemployed to complete activities (including training and applying for a certain number of jobs) in return for receiving unemployment benefits.

Failure to comply attracts demerit points which can lead to the loss of benefits.

The goal is meant to be to help the unemployed return to work more quickly.

But do they? Academic literature provides several reasons to think they might not.

One is self-determination theory.

The argument is that there are two types of motivation: self-authored (intrinsic motivation) and enforced by others (external motivation).

Both types can spur action, but often only the former leads to success.

Remember your parents told you to do something, rather than you deciding for yourself? We’re guessing it mattered for the end result.

We found that those subjected to mutual obligations search just as intensively (if not more) for jobs, but that they took longer to find employment and spent less time in employment twelve months on.

– Ruud Gerards and Ricardo Welters

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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