Two key welfare law improvements will make it possible for job seekers to keep their social security concessions for a longer period of time while working, and modifications that allow retirees to work more before their payouts are decreased will become permanent. Both of these changes will take effect in the near future.
The white paper on employment, titled Working Future, was published on Monday. The Albanese government has decided to invest $85.2 million over the next four years on the two initiatives, which are the centerpiece of nine new policies that were adopted through the white paper.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers referred to the welfare in the white paper as “the roadmap for Australia to build a bigger, as well as better-trained & more productive workforce – to boost incomes as well as living standards that will create more opportunities for Australians to participate to their full potential.” This was stated by Chalmers in the context of the white paper.
So, what exactly are the most important new components of Working Future?
1. Permanent adjustments to the pension system
Following the jobs and skills conference in September, Labor conceded to a key welfare demand of the Coalition by granting seniors of retirement age and veterans the ability to earn up to four thousand dollars extra per year without having their pension reduced.
According to the announcement made in the white paper, this adjustment will be made permanent at a cost of $42.4 million through 2026-2027. After the first of the year 2024, pensioners over the age of 65 and qualifying veterans will be able to earn up to $11,800 year without having their benefits decreased.
2. Assistance and assistance are provided to recipients of welfare
In spite of the fact that the Coalition has requested that the Albanian government increase the amount of income that job seekers can make before having their payments decreased, the white paper does not consider this possibility.
According to the study, 78 percent of people who get jobseeker benefits “do not make use of the income free area,” and the study also found that people who do earn income “do not appear to restrict their income to align with the income free area threshold.”
Instead, the government will ease the transition to work for many people who get income support by doubling the amount of time they can receive a zero rate of payment. This will enable them to keep access to social security benefits such as concession cards for a longer period of time when they first start working again, which will smooth the transition to work.
Labor intends to lobby for legislation that would allow beneficiaries of payments to remain connected to the welfare system for a period of up to six months after securing employment, beginning on the first of July 2024.
It is intended to address concerns that losing access to concession cards, childcare subsidies, and other supplementary payments, or having to reapply and wait for income support if things don’t work out, is discouraging people from taking up work, particularly short-term, casual, and gig economy jobs. It is also intended to address concerns that people are losing access to concession cards, childcare subsidies, and other supplementary payments, or having to reapply and wait for income support.
It is predicted that the measure will help 138,000 people over the course of four years, notably those who receive jobseeker’s or youth allowances. The cost of the program is $42.8 million.
3. Training through apprenticeships and the Tafe
Over the next five years, the government plans to construct six new centres of Tafe excellence in addition to its goal of doubling the number of people who enrol in higher apprenticeships in the priority areas of care, digitization, and net zero emissions.
Labour plans to invest $31 million in the Tafe centres and an additional $10 million to build higher and degree apprenticeships for people who want to enter key industries but do not want to attend university.
Higher apprenticeships are a form of occupational training that combines classroom instruction with on-the-job training.
4. Reform of employment services
As a result of the findings of the white paper, which said that “the system may work relatively well for an average job seeker, but it has failed those who are most disadvantaged,” the model for the job services provided by Workforce Australia is also going to undergo significant change.
The existing system is going to be redesigned with eight new principles that will recognize the need for services that “protect the dignity and respect rights of individuals,” provide a pathway towards “decent jobs,” and deliver “strong Australian Public Service stewardship in the system… to ensure that individuals are not left behind.”
The government has stated that it plans to overhaul the local employment program in order to increase its flexibility and provide tangible initiatives and action to better serve jobseekers. One of these initiatives will be the deployment of public officials to Broome, Geraldton, and Kalgoorlie in the state of Western Australia.
The controversial ParentsNext program, the community development program, and the disability employment services model are all undergoing changes as a result of the reforms being implemented by the Albanese government. When the findings of a parliamentary inquiry are released in November, additional modifications to the Workforce Australia model are anticipated.
5. Passport to national qualifications
A national skills passport will have a scope, goals, and benefits that will be defined by a business case that the government will fund with $9.1 million.
The Business Council of Australia has expressed its support for the measure, noting that it will provide employers with a format that is consistent across the country in which to view and verify the skills of potential employees. Additionally, the measure is expected to make learning more adaptable by allowing students to receive recognition for what they have already accomplished even if they switch degrees or institutions.
The chief executive of the British Computer Association (BCA), Bran Black, stated that the organization had “long advocated for a skills passport and a national framework for a digital, portable skills sharing system,” adding that “the announcement is a game changer.”