The Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission (ACSWC) has expressed concerns over the Commonwealth Government's recent announcement to substantially toughen the job search requirements and penalties to be imposed on unemployed Australians.
    The strengthening of so-called "mutual obligation requirements" outlined in this announcement include: the requirement for the unemployed to increase the number of job applications they make each fortnight; a wider application of the dole diary among the unemployed; and the cancellation of payments for recipients leaving part-time work, which is often precarious and poorly paid.
    Acting National Director of the commission, Mr John Ferguson, said: "The community accepts that it is reasonable to expect people who receive unemployment benefits to actively search for work and to take up job offers when they become available. However, the initiatives outlined by the Prime Minister and Minister for Community Services will do little to address the overwhelming cause of unemployment - the lack of available jobs in many sections of our community."
    The ACSWC expressed concern that the current preoccupation in social policy to increase punitive job search obligations is not being balanced with initiatives that would boost the supply of jobs to areas where they are most needed. "Increases in job search, compliance and client monitoring will remain a wasteful and often demoralising exercise in areas where jobs are unavailable or inaccessible," said Mr Ferguson.
Cath Weekly 1:27am 3/2/00

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