The Guardian November 26, 2003


"Work for the Dole" sham exposed

It has been previously established through numerous studies 
that the Work for the Dole scheme provides no benefit to the 
unemployed. A shocking new report has found Work for the Dole 
actively harms participants, who are more likely to remain 
unemployed six months after completion than those who did not 
participate.

On its Centrelink website the Government says, "Work for the Dole 
is about helping job seekers improve their employment prospects 
by providing opportunities for work experience". Yet indicators 
to date show this to be a cruel lie.

Damning report

The latest and most thorough report  Does 'Work for the 
Dole' work?  was commissioned by the Government from the 
Melbourne Institute in a bid to stem criticism.

However, when the report was delivered in June this year the 
findings were so damning that the Government suppressed its 
release.

The report outlines Work for the Dole's fundamental flaws: the 
unemployed did not develop skills; there was no training offered; 
the program was not targeted at finding employment; and the 
program is not linked to continuing employment.

Unemployed people were further hampered by the fact they had less 
time to look for work, and the stigma attached to the Work for 
the Dole scheme made them less attractive to employers.

"The study provides strong support for our view that 'Work for 
the Dole' is a cruel hoax that fails to truly help jobseekers", 
said Andrew McCallum, President of the Australian Council of 
Social Services.

"It is no wonder there are still 360,000 people long-term 
registered as unemployed with Centrelink  about the same as in 
March 1996 when this Government came to office."

Employment Services Minister Mal Brough dismissed the Report as 
"outdated and narrow".

Yet at the same time the Minister was forced to concede the 
Government's own research showed that less than seven percent of 
Work for the Dole graduates found full-time employment.

The author of the report, Professor Borland, defended his work, 
saying, "Our results remain highly consistent with the 
international literature on these types of programs".

The Howard Government has spent $500 million since its 
introduction in 1997, with a further $178 million to be spent in 
the current financial year.

System of punishment Work for the Dole is in reality a system of 
punishment and discouragement. The unemployed are punished for 
claiming unemployment benefit.

The threat of Work for the Dole forces the unemployed to accept 
sub-standard jobs, as they reason "It is better to work for 
below-award wages than to work 36 hours per week for $290 
unemployment benefits".

The long-term unemployed, discouraged by the fact that they have 
been through the program and still not found work will be more 
likely to forgo the dole altogether than suffer another three-
month stint of slave labour.

Then, when the official unemployment rate drops, the Government 
is able to claim success for its unemployment policies.

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