Inquiry into Workforce Australia Employment Services
Responding to the Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services, this submission suggests that, to meaningfully meet the needs of participants (including safety and economic security), consideration of domestic and family violence experiences must be fundamental to the Workforce Australia service response.
Drawing on evidence from ANROWS research as well as wider sources, the submission focuses in particular on the sufficiency of Workforce Australia’s recognition of diverse jobseeker needs, and alternative responses to these needs; how best to provide specialist services for disadvantaged groups; and system changes that could be made to embed a more supportive and less punitive approach to mutual obligations requirements.
The submission makes the following recommendations for Workforce Australia:
- Provide comprehensive DFV training for Workforce Australia service provider staff to recognise physical and non-physical forms of violence. Support staff by fostering an authorising environment, involving backing from senior management, to implement this training in practice.
- Replace the one-size-fits-all approach contained within the Targeted Compliance Framework by assessing individual needs when responding to perceived failures to meet mutual obligation requirements and connecting participants with appropriate supports.
- Address structural and cultural barriers to access and participation in Workforce Australia Employment Services, particularly for women experiencing domestic and family violence, First Nations women, culturally and linguistically diverse women, and women with disability.
- Conduct research directly with victims and survivors to understand their experiences of employment services, focusing on First Nations women, culturally and linguistically diverse women, and women with disability.
- In collaboration with the domestic and family violence sector, improve Workforce Australia’s capacity to identify and respond to women’s needs in the context of domestic and family violence and employment service engagement.
- Ensure greater integration with other services and systems that participants may engage with to reduce the administrative strain of requesting support and exemptions to compulsory participation for participants.
- Remove financial penalties from the Workplace Australia service model to avoid contributing to economic hardship or financial stress for victims and survivors of domestic and family violence.
- Adjust the mutual obligations regime to respond to individual needs and situations, including victims’ and survivors’ needs for safety and stability, rather than adopting a blanket approach that assumes that employment will always be beneficial.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. (2023). Re: Inquiry into Workforce Australia Employment Services [Submission]. ANROWS.