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✍️ Defund Predatory Job Agencies

Unemployment is skyrocketing with no sign of slowing down. 2.3 million people are unemployed and there are up to 106 job seekers for every job.1,2

And Morrison's response?

To spend $500 million not creating jobs, but giving kickbacks to private job agencies – notorious for their inability to actually find people jobs and for abusing unemployed people.3

It's why more than 234,000 people had their payments suspended since September 28 after these agencies were allowed to punish people again.4

The Morrison government must stop giving billions of dollars to private corporations to punish the unemployed. Instead we rapidly need to implement public investment in meaningful, safe, and decently-paid jobs.

Can you sign the petition and demand private job agencies be abolished and money go to federal funding for local jobs instead?
JobActive is a private system that is meant to connect those looking for jobs with employment opportunities and a job plan. They enforce 'mutual obligations', which are requirements for job seekers set by their employment agency.

While JobActive sounds good in theory, in reality there just aren't enough jobs. Instead of publicly investing in decent jobs, the government is wasting money on job providers that can't even provide jobs.

JobActive encourages applying for jobs at businesses with no openings, making businesses deal with floods of applications they can't even respond to. And if an unemployed person doesn't, JobActive reports them to the government, who punishes them with a stop to their income support payments – risking starvation and homelessness.

Because these employment agencies are privately owned, it's in their interests to maintain this system. This can involve pressuring job seekers to travel to centres when it's unsafe to do so or too expensive to afford, put up with humiliating Work for the Dole employment, and be misled by dodgy agents.
A lot of the finances of these agencies are under wraps, but the government's last tender to JobActive agencies (2015-2022) includes these outrageous funds for the top ten highest earning companies:5

  • MAX Solutions - $1.21 billion
  • Sarina Russo Job Access - $606 million
  • APM - $471 million
  • Neato Employment Services - $257 million
  • Sureway Employment and Training - $221 million
  • Serendipity - $196 million
  • Atwork Australia - $136 million
  • Global Skills - $91.3 million
  • MBC Employment Services - $90.5 million
  • Peopleplus Enterprises - $84 million

What's worse is that the government is giving JobActive huge bonuses during coronavirus. When the pandemic started, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash approved an advance payment of more than $100 million for private agencies.2 Since then, 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.3
We have heard some harrowing, disgraceful, and heartbreaking stories from people engaged in privatised employment services:

  • Content warning: Suicide "Lanyon's first job centre wanted him to come back to Leongatha twice a week to spend three to four hours on the centre's computers looking for work. He was also going to have to send off 20 job applications a month.

    It would have been a mean feat for someone without reliable transport living in a town of about 1,000 people. If he didn't meet the requirements, his benefits would be cut. Lanyon refused to sign.

    "Rather than negotiate with me she told me she was just going to cut me off," he says. "I was going back home and the truth is I was contemplating suicide, I was thinking of driving in front of a truck. I pulled over a few minutes later and went back to the Salvation Army.""6

  • "The other person who started with me quit six weeks in. When they left, my caseload doubled as all the permanent staff had quit, and I was the only case manager and sometimes the only person in the office. This meant I had 15 minutes to spend with people who were often incredibly vulnerable. The worst off among them would come in and you'd know behind the scenes their life was a mess. They were homeless, or out on parole, or had addictions. Sometimes I had to cut off their payments for one bureaucratic infraction or another. I consider myself a fairly ethical person with a good sense of social justice. Before long I was asking myself, how the hell did I end up here doing this to these people?"7

  • "One day I overheard someone at the agency explain to a client: "We don't find you jobs, we just help you look for them." I was gobsmacked because it drove home just how much the system had changed. At the end of the day, we were just compliance officers. Cops, basically. You were bound to a computer, ticking boxes, trying to find work for people who were often low-skilled or highly skilled in occupations that were no longer around."7

  • "Mel, 33, is one of more than 3,000 homeless Australians who've been signed up to the compulsory employment training program ParentsNext despite having no fixed address to take a shower or prepare a warm meal for her kids.

    A mother of four, Mel's spent more than two years on Tasmania's public housing waiting list.

    ParentsNext was rolled out last year by the Federal Government.(Supplied) She was furious when she received a letter demanding she undergo an eligibility assessment for ParentsNext or else her parenting payments would be cut off.

    "It's degrading, it's making us feel like we're lazy, like we're not doing nothing for our kids," said Mel, whose last name is being withheld for privacy reasons."8
[1] Australia's unemployment rate: State virus border closures hurting jobs, news.com.au, 24 August 2020.
[2] Jobseekers outnumber vacant jobs by as much as 106-to-one, study warning of coronavirus employment crisis reveals, ABC News, 14 October 2020.
[3] Exclusive: Jobactive virus kickbacks top $500 million, The Saturday Paper, 29 August 2020.
[4] Coronavirus: Scott Morrison offers JobSeeker lifeline, The Australian, 10 November 2020. [5] Australia's top 10 fat cat job agencies revealed as job seekers can't find work, The Courier Mail, 12 October 2020. [6] Punished by the lucrative welfare-to-work industry: 'I was contemplating suicide', The Guardian, 4 May 2019.
[7] Jobactive workers speak out: 'How the hell did I end up doing this to these people?', The Guardian, 27 October 2019.
[8] Welfare to worse, ABC Background Briefing, August 4 2019.

SIGN THE PETITION

Prime Minister Morrison,

Defund predatory private job agencies. Invest the money in a real jobs programme instead.




24,200 signatures

We need 15,800 more


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