13 March 2023, Guardian Australia, Paul Karp. Access the full article here.

Mutual obligation system subjects some participants to ‘punitive conditions’, commonwealth ombudsman says

Australia’s mutual obligation system for welfare risks “subjecting disadvantaged participants to unreasonably onerous and punitive conditions”, the commonwealth ombudsman has warned.

The ombudsman made the submission to a Senate inquiry, which has already recommended a major overhaul of the controversial ParentsNext program, and revealed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants were fined at almost double their rate of participation.

Indigenous participants “incurred a higher rate (33%) of payment suspensions than their proportion of the ParentsNext caseload (18%)”, according to the employment department’s submission.

… the incentive structure for providers and their discretion concerning participants’ job plans may not always produce fair outcomes for participants

– Commonwealth Ombudsman submission to Workforce Australia Inquiry

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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