Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Cait Kelly

Major Australian employment service accused of claiming credit for work jobseeker found herself

People are seen outside a Centrelink office
Welfare advocates claim Australia’s unemployment system has rewarded job service providers, even when they have not helped jobseekers. Photograph: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

One of the country’s biggest job providers has been accused of claiming it referred a jobseeker into work she got herself, which could trigger publicly funded incentive payments.

In July, a New South Wales woman, who asked for her name not to be used, found herself a job as a youth worker just as she was accessing jobseeker and matched with employment service provider APM.

Documents seen by Guardian Australia suggest the company referred the jobseeker into a role she had already been hired for and commenced. APM has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

Welfare advocates claim Australia’s unemployment system has rewarded job service providers, even when they have not helped jobseekers.

Job providers receive public funding for helping people get into work but are not paid just for referring people to jobs. Providers receive payments after jobseekers stay in jobs for four, 12, and 26 weeks. Outcome payments range from $240 for a “partial four-week outcome” to $5,000 for a “full 26-week outcome”.

Additional bonuses are available for finding work for the most disadvantaged participants, with payments ranging from $1,000 to $4,000.

The jobseeker says she had signed the contract and started the onboarding process before she had started with APM. At an appointment with the provider, she told them she had secured a position.

“It was 10 July when I started my work placement, it was the week before that I had an appointment with my job provider because I was on Centrelink,” she said.

“But I had been looking for work for a long time. And this company that I had contacted for a job way back in February, had re-contacted me with a different role if I was interested, and I was.

“Then on the Monday, I came in and said, ‘It looks like I may have a job and I start next Monday’.”

The jobseeker says she was then sent an employment support consent form from APM, asking for the details of her new employee.

She says she then tried to disengage from Centrelink, as she was employed but still getting some credit points to receive a small sum of money. She says when she logged on to the account to close it off, it said APM referred her to the job she had found herself.

Labor MP Julian Hill reacts during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra
Labor MP Julian Hill was chair of the recent inquiry into the Workforce Australia system, which found the system to be frequently ineffective. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

“I went on to my Workforce Australia thing because I was trying to close everything off. And it said that APM referred me to the job that I have,” she said.

“I’m 52 … and I’ve been unemployed on and off throughout my life and I’ve never had a job service provider find me employment. I’ve always found my own. All they do, they’re basically like good welfare cops.”

APM said it could not comment on specific cases due to confidentiality and privacy.

“However, we reject any suggestions we acted unlawfully, unethically or breached Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) contract guidelines relating to Workforce Australia,” a spokesperson said.

“APM fully complies with DEWR guidelines and regulations relating to Workforce Australia and are subject to its rigorous compliance requirements.”

Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union welfare advocate Jeremy Poxon called on the department to take such issues more seriously.

“It’s clearly ridiculous that we have a system that rewards job providers when they fail to provide people jobs,” Poxon said.

“It’s hard to think of any other government-funded service this parasitic; that allows private companies to profit off individuals’ own efforts to improve their circumstances and find work.”

A recent inquiry into the Workforce Australia system chaired by Labor MP Julian Hill and established by the employment minister, Tony Burke, declared the system was frequently ineffective but was still set to cost more than $9.5bn over the next four years.

“It’s frankly nuts that we’re still pouring billions of dollars into [the employment services system],” Poxon said.

A DEWR spokesperson said there are “strict rules” and guidelines “governing the payment of employment outcomes for pre-existing employment”.

“Where a participant is in a job prior to starting with a provider, this is known as pre-existing employment and can only lead to the payment of employment outcomes in certain circumstances,” the spokesperson said.

“There must be a significant increase in the participant’s work capacity, that occurs while being supported by the provider, in order for an employment outcome to be paid.”

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.