Mornings with Gareth Parker 6PR

Transcript
  • Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations
  • Minister for Women

GARETH PARKER:

Kelly O’Dwyer is the Federal Employment Minister. Kelly, good morning.

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

Good morning, Gareth. Great to be with you.

 

GARETH PARKER:

Thanks for your time. What are you changing and why?

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

We know that the most important thing a Government can do is to provide a helping hand for those people who are looking for a job, and we have been successful to date since about 1946, when we have had an employment services system that has helped get people into work. But we do know that when we look and evaluate the fact that since 2015 we’ve had around 1.3 million people put into placements for jobs, we know that it hasn’t been working as well for people who are long-term unemployed because there is still one in five people receiving welfare payments in the employment services system after five years. And we have to ask ourselves the question: what can we do better?

And we’ve done that, and we know that there are things that we can improve about the system to help get those people who’ve got greater barriers to workforce participation get into the workforce, which can help them to have more opportunities in their lives, build their financial security and ensure that their family prospects are so much better as a result.

 

GARETH PARKER:

Okay. So, are you scrapping the requirement that people apply for 20 jobs a month?

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

There are a couple of things that we’re changing. The first is that where people can use digital technology they’ve said to us that they actually don’t want government to get in the way. They don’t want to have to turn up to a job service provider and have multiple interviews which don’t really lead to anything because they themselves can actually get a job; they simply want the digital tools that they need in order to get the job that they’re after. And so, we’re investing heavily into the digital service product that will allow for this and the government’s going to get out of the way. But we know that there are some people who don’t want, simply, to have to go online and find a job themselves. They want some support, and so we’ve got a safety net for those people.

 

GARETH PARKER:

So, there’ll be more online but there will be some people who still go to job service providers?

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

Correct. That’s right. And for those people who are long-term unemployed, the money that we’re saving from the digital first platform will be reinvested into those people who have got bigger barriers. So for instance, somebody who might be living in a regional community where they need to travel in order to get to a job, they need to perhaps get some additional education; the money will be reinvested in those people to actually help them get the transport they need to be able to get to a job and also to be able to ensure that they can get the skills that they need to get that job.

 

GARETH PARKER:

Okay. The applications per month issue?

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

We’re still absolutely committed to mutual obligation and by that we mean that if anybody’s actually receiving money from the Government, from the Australian taxpayer to support them, then they need to be obliged to be looking for a job, but we think that this one size fits all approach doesn’t work for everybody and has led to a lot of employers receiving a lot of applications that aren’t all that good, and people making job applications where they might not have the right skill set. So, we’re getting rid of that and instead we’re saying that the mutual obligation requirements will be points-based. It will be better tailored to the individual’s needs to make sure that the activities that they’re undertaking will in fact help them to be able to obtain employment.

 

GARETH PARKER:

So, I think some people will view that as a weakening of mutual obligation. The feedback I have from employers, particularly small businesses, is that they get thoroughly sick of being flooded, basically, with dud applications that are never going anywhere; that they sort of view as people just box-ticking so that they can, you know …

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

Correct.

 

GARETH PARKER:

… either look for a job they actually want, or continue to receive Newstart, whatever the case may be.

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

Gareth, I think you’re right. We know that only around about 4 per cent of employers actually use the current jobactive network to find people with skills to fill their job vacancies, and that figure needs to be a lot higher. We need to able to match people up in a more timely manner and we need employers to be actually using the system. So, you know, when there’s too much red tape and when the system doesn’t work for employers they’re not going to use it, which means that there’s less opportunity for those people who are seeking a job. So, we’re changing that. We’re not weakening mutual obligation requirements; we’re simply making sure that those mutual obligation requirements are much better targeted; that they’re not simply a one size fits all approach; that they actually work for the individual to make sure that it is helping them to get a job. And at the end of the day, that is the outcome that we want delivered.

 

GARETH PARKER:

Okay. For long-term unemployed or anyone on Newstart – love to hear from you about how the system works or doesn’t work – 9221 1882, and do you think that these changes will make it work better?

Ultimately, the goal’s got to be to get people into jobs, doesn’t it? And look, I think in this state there’s an open question about whether there are enough jobs.

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

So absolutely the outcome is what we’re all driving at. And look, as a Coalition Government, we’re very proud of our record – that we’ve seen more than 1.2 million jobs created since coming into Government. We’ve got a record number of people in employment, and of those new jobs that have been created the majority of them have actually been full time jobs. So, these are really important changes that have actually happened in our employment market. We’ve got the lowest welfare dependency in 30 years, but we do know that if somebody is confined to a life on welfare, if they’re not given the support that they need to be able to get a job and overcome some of their barriers to employment. It can not only cost the Australian taxpayer to the tune of around $315,000 per person over that person’s lifetime; or to put it another way, around about $411 billion nationwide; but it will also cost that individual. It can lead to intergenerational welfare dependency, and of course, that reduces someone’s options and choices and certainly reduces their ability to lead the life that they want to lead.

 

GARETH PARKER:

Thank you for talking to me this morning, Minister.

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

Terrific. Thanks, Gareth.

 

GARETH PARKER:

Kelly O’Dwyer, the Federal Employment Minister.

For more information

Media mailbox: media@jobs.gov.au