Release type: Media Release


Government response to the House Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services


The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for the Arts

The Albanese Government has today released its response to the findings of the House Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services and agrees reforms are necessary.

As set out in the White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities, the Government has set out its vision for a labour market where workers, businesses and communities can thrive, and everyone who wants a job can find one without having to search too long.

Employment services should play a key role creating opportunities for people to earn and get ahead.

As the House Select Committee found, the system works for some people but not others. It treats everyone the same – the professional between jobs, the single parent with caring responsibilities who can only work part-time, the young university graduate ready for full-time work without any experience, and the person with health conditions who has struggled to find the right job for too long.

It's like an emergency room that treats every patient the same way. This one size fits all approach doesn’t work.

The employment services system needs to better understand people’s circumstances and connect them with the right support.

It needs to support them earlier on their pathway to work, so they don’t stay in the system longer than they need to.

Everyone who wants to work should have an opportunity to work in safe, secure jobs with good pay and conditions.

We also need to do more with employers and social enterprise. There is a lot we can learn from the strength-based approaches used by social enterprise, including how to fit jobs to people’s circumstances. Better meeting the workforce needs of employers and industry benefits everyone.

Work has begun to deliver the Government’s ambitious program of reform. We will collaborate with the community and business to make sure we get it right.

While it will take time to design and implement large scale reform, the Government acknowledges there is a need for some immediate improvements. That is why the Government has announced preliminary steps towards large scale reform, including as part of the 2024-25 Budget:

  • improved safeguards and transparency, including a new complaints mechanism
  • better recognising individuals’ circumstances through changes to mutual obligation rules
  • new pilots to help people who require additional support obtain real jobs and earn real wages.

The Government is also introducing a new voluntary pre-employment service for parents from 1 November 2024 to replace the former government’s punitive ParentsNext program.

I thank the Select Committee for its work, and the many people who made submissions and appeared as witnesses. The views expressed and recommendations will provide a critical foundation for this important work.