The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has today welcomed the release of the Rebuilding Employment Services Report, which exposes the undeniable failure of the privatised employment services system.

The report backs in the CPSU’s calls for the public service to be put back at the heart of the employment services system, recommending that the government develop and publish a plan to transition across to a Commonwealth Employment Services system.

The union has been campaigning to end the privatisation of employment services, rebuild a public sector employment agency and reform the punitive mutual obligations system.

The recommendations inlcude:

  • Establish a large Commonwealth public sector provider – Employment Services Australia
  • Creation of a watchdog – an Employment Services Quality Commission
  • Reform to the punitive mutual obligations system, with individual tailoring of plans and returning breach powers to the public service in Services Australia. This would include ending automated payment suspensions, and ensuring people have access to a human decision maker before their payments are suspended.
  • Increasing regional services, with the public service working alongside localised specialist services
  • For the Australian Government to develop and publish a transition plan for the rebuilt Commonwealth Employment Services System by the end of 2024.

The CPSU calls on the government to ensure that any changes are accompanied by appropriate staffing and resourcing of the APS, including Services Australia, who would be taking on additional responsibilities for an already understaffed and stretched agency.

Quotes attributable to Melissa Donnelly, CPSU National Secretary:

“This report is an important milestone in our union’s ongoing campaign to end the privatisation of employment services and build a modern day CES.

“This report has confirmed what we already knew. Privatisation has failed, and the Commonwealth public sector must be put back at the heart of employment services.

“It is not fit-for-purpose, and is failing employers, jobseekers and tax payers.

“Disappointingly the report falls short in failing to recommend the abolition of mutal obligations, which is the ineffective and punitive compliance framework that underpins the current model. The recommended reforms in the report are positive, but a true departure from the current punitive system will require further significant work from the government.

“From the outset, the CPSU has argued that the current system is not one we can tinker with or tweak. It is a broken system that we need to replace.

“That is why the CPSU is campaigning to renationalise employment services through the creation of a modern, fit for purpose CES.

“This woud rebuild capacity and capability within the APS, it would allow the Commonwealth to play a direct role in shaping labour market changes and responding to immediate and future policy challenges and economic priorities, and it would rewrite the relationship between government and job seekers, which is hugely overdue.

Media contact: Tori McGregor 0429 000 620