Doorstop Melbourne - Transforming employment services

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


KELLY O’DWYER:

Today, I'm announcing one of the most significant and transformative changes to Australia's employment services system. We know that one of the most important things that any government can do is to give people a helping hand to get and keep a job. Getting a job can change people’s lives for the better - giving them choices and opportunities, helping to build their confidence, their dignity, and their financial independence. And our Government is proud of our achievements in this space, with more than 1.2 million jobs created since coming into Government, the majority of those jobs being full-time jobs, and of course, the majority of those jobs being held by women. We have got a record number of people in employment now and a record number of women in employment. We have the lowest levels of welfare dependency in 30 years and we have steadily been closing the gender pay gap, which under Labor reached a high of 17.2 per cent and has come down under us to 14.2 per cent.

We have an employment services system that has been in place since around 1946. But it is a system that has been delivering for so many millions of Australians, but we know there is even more that can be done. Around 1.3 million placements have been made since 2015, but still the long term unemployed, who are still reliant on welfare payments, remains very entrenched, with one in five people on employment services still receiving welfare payments five years on. We want to see that number changed because, of course, whilst the cost to the Australian taxpayer of people being reliant on welfare is to the tune of around about $411 billion over the life cycle of someone of working age,  I want to put it another way, around $315,000 per person. But very significantly, it has a direct impact for that person as well. We know it can lead to intergenerational welfare dependency, with around 39 per cent of people who are reliant on income support payments having children who themselves are receiving income support by the age of 20.

That is why today, we are announcing a transformative change to employment service provision. We are announcing a pilot that will begin on 1 July in New South Wales and in South Australia that will put employers and jobseekers at the centre of our employment services system. It will have a focus on digital-first, where people will be able to search for their jobs and the government gets out of the way. But it will also, importantly, have a safety net for those people who need it, where they can talk to somebody directly, person to person, to make sure that they get the support that they need.

Critically, the savings that will come from the digital-first model will be reinvested into people who are long-term unemployed so that they get the wraparound services that they need in order to reduce their barriers to employment so that they can get and keep a job. This is a critical change. We also know that only around 4 per cent of employers currently use our employment services system right now because there's too much red tape and it's too cumbersome to be able to access the support that they need. This will also change so that they will have a free online tool to help them get the people to fill the skill shortages that they need when they need it.

We also are re-confirming our commitment to mutual obligation. Those people who are receiving welfare support do need to be searching for a job. That is going to be a critical part of this new system as well. But it needs to be more tailored and more flexible to the individual needs of those who are searching for a job.

Finally, there will be a licenced framework rather than a rolling tender process every five years or so. This will mean that we can preserve the best parts of the system and keep within the system those people who are doing a good job whilst exiting those people who are not achieving the outcomes for job seekers and employers that we expect and demand.

So, in summary, this is a significant and transformative change. It's a change that will help millions of Australians be able to get and keep a job. It builds on the strengths that the Coalition has been able to achieve during our time in Government and compares to that that would be offered by a Bill Shorten government, which when they were last in government, saw around 200,000 extra people left in unemployment and one in every eight manufacturing jobs lost. They also have a recipe for industrial relations chaos and division, which will do nothing to grow our economy, create new investment, and create new job opportunities.

 

JOURNALIST:

Will this shift to a more digital service result in less face to face services at all?

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

There are a lot of people who tell us that they want to simply be able to find their jobs online, and this is what we would expect in a changing jobs environment that is so focused in the digital space now, with Australians being some of the first adopters of digital technology. But we can't leave people behind. We know that there are some people who don't have the digital literacy to be able to actually access digital services and for them, of course, it's going to be important that they have face-to-face services to help them to be able to obtain a job.

 

JOURNALIST:

Will there be less, though? Will it be the same amount or is there going to be a reduction?

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

There will be a reduction in the caseload of people that job service providers will be dealing with, absolutely, but they will more intensively be working with the caseload that they have. And importantly, the money that is saved from the digital-first model will be reinvested in those people who need to have further help and further support; those people who have barriers to their employment – they might live in regional communities where they have less access to transport. And of course, intensive services to help them being able to overcome those barriers will be an important part of the new framework that will be in place.

 

JOURNALIST:

With the digitisation of the Centrelink system, we saw the whole robo-debt saga. Can you guarantee that there won't be similar problems with this system?

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

It’s important to say that we are piloting the system for two years for very good reason. We recognise this is such a fundamental and transformative change and in order to make sure that the national rollout is done in a methodical and careful and structured manner, you need to have that pilot process to make sure that there are no unintended consequences, and that's precisely what we have announced. It is important for us to get this right, and to get it right from day one and to make sure that any requirements that we need to put into the national rollout are done through the national pilot program that will commence from 1 July this year in New South Wales and in South Australia.

 

JOURNALIST:

On today's migration announcements, if there are limited jobs in regional communities, are you risking further unemployment by sending skilled migrants there?

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well, we know that there are so many regional communities that are actually calling out for people with both skills and people who are unskilled in order to help do the work that needs to be done in regional communities and to help build up regional communities. Obviously, we want to work with those regional communities that are calling out for skills and calling out for people; and our announcement today ensures that where we can match people with communities, skills, with people who need skills, that we are doing precisely that.

 

JOURNALIST:

So, can you guarantee Australians that are unemployed- that unemployment rates won't rise in their towns as a result of this increased migration?

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

The announcement that I’m making today is all about making sure that anyone who wants a job can actually get a job; that those people who have got barriers to employment in regional Australia actually get the additional support that they need in order to be able to obtain employment. We know that, though, there are many regional communities that are in fact thriving, they’re doing well, and that are calling out for skills, and we've got to make sure that we meet that need and do so very, very quickly. We want to continue to grow our economy, to continue to ensure that businesses can invest and those businesses can create jobs that has meant that Australia has had 27 years of uninterrupted economic growth.

 

JOURNALIST:

A lot of regional centres have high unemployment rates. Where these job hotspots that you’re talking about? Where are these migrants meant to go?

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

There are many regional communities, as I said, that are actually calling out for people with a whole variety of skills, and the critical thing that we need to ensure as a Government is to match people with skills up with the opportunities that are available. We want to make sure that we also build up our regional communities. We don't want every single person who comes to this country to be living in urban areas, many of which are actually very congested because transport and infrastructure hasn’t kept pace. That’s why the announcement made by the Prime Minister today has been around structured planning, making sure that we have the investment made at the right time, working with the state and territory governments to ensure that that happens. That’s why this plan has been in development for a very long period of time and it’s why the Prime Minister made announcements during the last COAG meetings to ensure that our migration levels and population levels match the infrastructure and the planning that occurs at that state and territory level.

 

JOURNALIST:

We’d better ask about Turkey. What’s your advice for Australians who have booked trips to Gallipoli next month?

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

Look, I understand that many Australians see a visit to Turkey and a visit to Gallipoli as a right of passage. We want to honour our wonderful Anzacs who sacrificed so much for our freedom and for our liberty. I was obviously very disappointed by the comments that have been made and I know that our Prime Minister has spoken with the Turkish Ambassador. Obviously, Australians are a peace-loving people and we completely and utterly repudiate the hatred that has been demonstrated in New Zealand just recently by an extreme right-wing terrorist – someone who has caused harm to both our communities here in Australia and also in New Zealand, devastating lives – and our hearts go out to those of the Muslim faith and those who have been very directly impacted. But frankly, all of us have been impacted by this hatred. All of us repudiate this hatred. All of us repudiate this hate speech. And all of us want to make sure that we live in a much safer world.

 

JOURNALIST:

Quickly just with your role as Minister for Women, the AFLW star Tayla Harris has been vilified and sexualised and trolled on the internet in the last 24 hours. What's your message to the trolls and to also, I suppose, women who are constantly sexualised at work?

 

KELLY O’DWYER:

I'm disgusted by the trolling that’s taken place. Tayla Harris is a superstar. Tayla Harris is an incredible athlete representing the Carlton Football Club with her extreme talent, and she should be celebrated for her talent and her athleticism as we celebrate any other male footballer. I think it's disgusting that she has been trolled. In fact, I was pretty, frankly, disgusted by Channel 7’s response in actually taking down her picture rather than dealing with the trolls.

We need to out these trolls. We need to out these people who would seek to make misogynistic comments about women. Women deserve an equal stake in our community and our society. They deserve to be safe online, in our community, in their homes, and in the workplace. We say no to this hatred that has been exhibited and I want to congratulate Tayla Harris for standing up, for being such a wonderful role model to so many women and so many girls right across our great country.

Thank you.

 

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