More about mutual obligation

In Australia’s disability employment services system, currently the obligation is on job seekers to look for work. At face value this seems OK.

But you’d think, ipso facto, that government would then take on at least some responsibility for providing said work. This is not the case. Rather, employment figures for workers within government are either stubbornly low or even falling.

Considering the fiscal vulnerability of this group, punishment should not be possible and yet governments are forcing DES to adhere to rules-bound nastiness that has replaced care and support with punitive punishment.

Why not incentives all round?

Off the top of my head, here are a couple of incentives that recognise job-seeker effort:

 ·      If you’re seeking work in rural, regional or remote areas, you need only apply for five jobs per week, not 20

·      Haven’t found work in three months? Let’s sit back down and support you with different strategies.

·      Can’t afford a working wardrobe? A phone? To maintain a car? We’ll pay you an extra $50/week while you’re actively looking for work during the next year (and you don’t need to pay it back if you don’t get a job).

These strategies may or may not work. But, at the moment, there is no creative thinking – that’s zero – going into a strategy that is failing the 200,000 people with disability seeking work and barely surviving on the DSP in this country.

The result?

Governments hand down the obligation burden from the most able to the least. The job seeker feels put upon. Society doesn’t like the unemployed so the pressure rises even more. It’s like running on ice – you can go as fast as you like but you’re never going to get there, because you can get any grip.

 - Martin Wren