Once-in-a-generation chance to reform our broken employment services system

4 July 2024

The Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) welcomes the Federal Government's response to the report of the House of Representatives inquiry into Workforce Australia – particularly the acknowledgement that our broken employment services system requires significant improvement and that people who use the system must be at the heart of any impending reform.

“It’s clear this broken system needs more than bandaids, it needs bold and wholesale reform – that’s the only course of action consistent with the Federal Government's goal of sustained and inclusive employment,” said BSL’s Executive Director Travers McLeod.

We understand the challenge isn't just to rebuild the employment services system but to change how that system intersects with the social security and training systems, so it builds capability and confidence rather than punishing people.

The jobseekers and employers we work with at BSL tell us about their struggles with the employment system every day. We’ve heard countless examples of people wanting to give up engaging with it entirely because of its insurmountable complexities, barriers, and lack of tangible support.

There is a real risk we create more barriers for people if we persist with a broken model and watch the wheels fall off. The government has a transformative, once-in-a-generation chance here to steer this $7 billion dollar employment system as one that works for – not against - the people who need it most and it’s far too important an opportunity to waste.

While there has been a tendency in the past to tinker with employment services, we’re pleased the Federal Government is now talking about moving faster and being bolder in its reforms given the current state of the economy. BSL understands this will require a multi-year effort and we will continue to advocate with others for ambitious steps to be taken.

We look forward to contributing to the next phase of consultation and engagement with government, employers and jobseekers to progress this critical piece of work and await the further detail promised in the response, including the phasing of reforms and priority for implementation.

For media enquires: Steph Jones, Media and Communications Manager – steph.jones@bsl.org.au or 0482 163 395