Mutual Obligations & Women


‘Mutual obligations’ imposed on jobseekers are a rank misuse of public funds, ineffectual, and crippling in their consequences. The majority of those on Jobseeker are women aged over 50, so ‘mutual obligations’ affect them most. As editor of WomanGoingPlaces, I have written numerous articles advocating an end to this practice under the LNP Government and now continuing under Labor.

Rick Morton, an outstanding journalist at The Saturday Paper, recently revealed the lucrative strategy that employment service providers deploy to maximise their access to taxpayers’ funds.

He disclosed that these employment services providers are funnelling more than $40 million a year “in government funding earmarked for jobseekers through their own companies, related entities and labour-hire outfits, creating paper empires out of their impoverished clients.” 

“In short, a provider can be paid to take on a welfare recipient by the federal government and then be paid to place them into training within their own organisation and then be paid again by placing the person into work somewhere else in that organisation’s network.”

Rick Morton concludes that the system of ‘mutual obligations’ is “damaging and does not lead people to employment.”

Nevertheless, the Government continues to impose ‘mutual obligations’ which force older women to keep up the debilitating charade of applying for jobs that they have no hope of getting precisely because of gendered ageism. This is evident by the fact that older women spend the longest periods on Jobseeker, sometimes seven years or more.

There are 3 reasons why WomanGoingPlaces calls on Tony Burke, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, and the Labor Government to immediately end the practice of ‘mutual obligations’, and also to stop outsourcing employment services. First, it is a misuse of public funds. Second, it fails to put older women into employment and does not address the barriers faced by this demographic. Third, it does incalculable damage to the mental and physical health of these women, as well as keeping them trapped in poverty.

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