This report is my submission to the Inquiry into the Evaluation of Jobactive which is the Job Provider market based system that is funded by the government to find jobs for unemployed persons.
I became a conscientious objector to the system as I witnessed that citizens were forced into programs to Work for the Dole, they had to sign Job Plan contracts to agree to activities that were not agreed to. It became evident that those with the least income were viewed as not having rights in a compliance based system. This raised concern as our society is a democracy where the public are informed they have choice, the right to say no and freedom of speech. However, this system has become more punitive overtime with the poorest people, who live beneath the poverty line, being breached for not attending an appointment (would this happen in business?), breached if they swear, forced into activities they don’t agree with, jobs falsely claimed by the agency to profit and reduction or loss of welfare benefits which is the fast track to homelessness.
The cruelty of the system is in the clash and incompatibility of competition needs and interests.
From the business perspective organisations need to maximise profits in order to operate a business. This places pressure on consultants who often have large case loads and pressure to move people into activities or work. The government evaluates the Job Providers statistically to ensure they are finding jobs for so-called clients (welfare recipients). However, this pressure is exerted in an economy that is contracting globally combined with the announcements of disruption caused by the IT sector (envisaged to cause 40% unemployment in the future). The Job Providers operate in designated catchment areas where welfare recipients are drawn. Once in the system welfare recipients become job seekers and they have to agree to a Job Plan. They typically cannot negotiate (option not offered) and immediately disempowered within a context that indicates they MUST do as they are instructed with marginal choice and no tailoring as jobs sourced are typically low paid with minimal conditions. The Work for the Dole scheme is to work in primarily charitable non profits (for free) and engage in the work experience. Work experience was traditionally as part of schools or apprenticeship programs to enable real world experience. For those who are mature, they have experience but nonetheless must engage in menial tasks.
From the job seeker perspective they are being channelled into areas they may not feel will bring them the work they seek, they are told to go for any job (in some instances without knowledge of who the company is), they are expected to come in for a few hours a week to be supervised (parental) and they are forced on to activities as volunteers which takes up more and more of their time (akin to full time work). Work for the Dole is a program where people have to work (as above) in charitable non profit enterprises undertaking tasks that are not akin to an apprenticeship or in areas they are interested, but rather to keep them busy. They have no say over this and this is the very disempowerment which leads to mental health issues and despair. The numbers game of applying for 20 jobs a month, particularly with skills sets that are not common, sets up a person to fail. The demerit and cashless card systems are demeaning and parental rather than empowering and interesting. The forced nature of the system lends itself to bullying and the vulnerability of people means they constantly feel they have no say over their lives. It is a toxic system and is impacting the health and safety of many of those who enter the system. Most can’t wait to get out (a goal of the system) and this creates further turmoil, uncertainty and sorrow.
The original intent of Australian society security was to ensure a safety net for those who are unabel to get work. What many do not know is that markets expand and contract, industries are created or collapse, government policy (monetary, fiscal) impacts economic growth or decline. Recessions occur with repeated quarters of negative growth. These are policy, structural and global changes that impact the type of jobs available, the level of demand for labour and the classification of labour (blue collar, working class, professional etc.). The strata in the employment system has trajectories that are open to those with certain qualifications, educational backgrounds, gender, age, work history and connections. There are many complex factors at play that a welfare recipient will not know and hence, blame themselves.
My report is an analysis on the basis of my experience. It provides insights into dominator economics as contrasted with caring economics. It speak to the traditional purpose of social security and the importance of meaningful work. I had the privilege of meeting Robert Theobold in Canberra, he is a futurist and it is precisely this type of leadership we require today to shift from the old paradigm of force, control and manipulation to one of activities that work in harmony with sustainability, human wellbeing and social benefit. It can no longer be focused entirely on self interest detached from human impact. The systems that have been witnessed have revealed a strong emotional disconnect from the public interest, public service and representation of the true needs of people. Instead it has been rolled out more akin to a dictatorial system which disregards the needs and wants of its citizens justified on the basis of determining skills in service to industry. It is about working in partnership within a paradigm of a Caring Economics which recognises the many stakeholders in a society, aspects of which are economics based. It is a paradigm that works in the highest interests of the public. This is what the public want.
From a Constitutional perspective the government collects taxes and spends in accordance with the needs and wants of the public. The notion of democracy is representation of the people by the people. It is not to disassociate regarding industry interests as the public interest in a world that is ecologically collapsing as a result of human induced climate change. Our activities, infinite growth modelling without sufficient awareness of ecological balance and limits is moving societies towards collapse which is not security, social order or responsible governance. This is why more people are speaking up. It is essential to contribute to a global conversation about economics and where to from here?
My report can be accessed here. The government sought to redact junior staff, my email, AMP superannuation letter which I did not agree to. I had my submission taken down as I was informed that when the report was published I no longer OWNED my report. I disagree with this and didn’t want my report removed but rather the original version to be put up for public scrutiny as part of a democratic feedback in a Senate Inquiry. My perspective was not respected, my request to state to the public it was a dispute was not faithfully honoured, rather the government stated that I had requested it be taken down without explanation. Transparency and visibility is the mainstay of democracy and I intend to honour my democracy. May my experience serve my society, as all the work I’ve done has been to that end. I am passionate about the public interest.
S. Carew Submission to Senate Inquiry: Report ‘Compliance or Democracy’ Submission for Job Providers Inquiry re Compliance or Democracy S Carew latest
Senate Inquiry Title and Terms of Reference
The appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of jobactive
On 15 August 2018, the Senate referred the inquiry into the appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of jobactive to the Education and Employment References Committee for reporting by 5 December 2018. On 29 November 2018 the Senate agreed to an extension of time to report until 13 February 2019. On 13 February 2019 the Senate agreed to an extension of time to report until 14 February 2019. The closing date for submissions is 28 September 2018.
As a large number of submissions have been received, including many of a sensitive and personal nature, there may be a delay between your submission being received and it being considered and approved for publication by the committee. This process may take a number of weeks. Thank you for your patience in this matter.
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Terms of Reference
The appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of jobactive, with specific reference to:
- the nature and underlying causes of joblessness in Australia;
- the methods by which Australians gain employment and their relative effectiveness;
- the extent of consultation and engagement with unemployed workers in the design and implementation of jobactive;
- the ability of jobactive to provide long-term solutions to joblessness, and to achieve social, economic and cultural outcomes that meet the needs and aspirations of unemployed workers;
- the fairness of mutual obligation requirements, the jobactive Job Plan negotiation process and expenditure of the Employment Fund;
- the adequacy and appropriateness of activities undertaken within the Annual Activity Requirement phase, including Work for the Dole, training, studying and volunteering programs and their effect on employment outcomes;
- the impacts and consequences of the job seeker compliance framework;
- the appeals process, including the lack of an employment services ombudsman;
- the funding of jobactive, including the adequacy of the ‘outcome driven’ funding model, and the adequacy of this funding model to address barriers to employment;
- alternative approaches to addressing joblessness; and
- any other related matters.