Australia’s employment minister has said he will not put in place a three-month freeze on mutual obligations during the transition to a new system because he wants welfare recipients to remain engaged.
The Workforce Australia program will replace jobactive on July 4, the federal government announced on Wednesday.
Under jobactive, participants had to complete 20 job applications in exchange for income support. While the new system has moved to a points system, users who continue to apply for 20 jobs a month for income support will continue to meet their mutual obligations.
Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke said ABC RN Breakfast it would not institute a 90-day freeze on mutual obligations, despite calls from organizations including Anglicare.
He noted that job seekers would now be credited for a more diverse range of programs, such as English lessons for migrants.
“I’m worried about saying, ‘you absolutely don’t have to commit for 90 days’; we’d be doing people a disservice with that,” Burke said.
“There are people we really need to engage with closely where the new system – especially the changes I made to it – encourages and gives credit to people where they didn’t used to. obtain credit; for taking different courses and activities to prepare them for employment.
Burke said around 800,000 welfare recipients currently in Australia would receive a clean slate at the start of the new system, meaning all current penalties for failing to meet mutual obligations would be removed.