Work for the Headline

So Tony Abbott wants to expand Work for the Dole. I wonder whether he might want to pick up a report commissioned by the Howard government, which concluded that the program reduced the chances of jobseekers finding employment?

Jeff Borland  & Yi-Ping Tseng

This study examines the effect of a community-based work experience program - Work for the Dole (WfD) - on transitions out of unemployment in Australia.   To evaluate the WfD program a quasi-experimental exact matching approach is applied. Justification for the matching approach is a ‘natural experiment’ - limits on WfD project funding - that it is argued constituted a source of random assignment to the program.  Participation in the WfD program is found to be associated with a large and significant adverse effect on the likelihood of exiting unemployment payments.  The main potential explanation is existence of a ‘lock-in’ effect whereby program participants reduce job search activity.

Then again, maybe Mr Abbott is more interested in policies that sound good than those which actually deliver results. That certainly seemed to be the approach of former Minister Mal Brough, who clearly felt that the test of a good policy was whether you could find a talkback listener who liked it.
Questions without Notice, 27 May 2004

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (3:09 PM) —Is the minister aware that Work for the Dole participants are painting murals, making candles and putting on puppet shows? Is the minister also aware of the Borland and Tseng report commissioned by the government, which concluded the Work for the Dole program's `effect on exit from unemployment payments becomes progressively more negative'? When will the government get serious about preparing the unemployed for real jobs by adopting policies like Labor's Youth Guarantee: Learn or Earn policy? Why did the minister yesterday announce more `play for the dole' projects, including kite making?

Mr BROUGH (Longman) (Minister for Employment Services and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) —This is not an unexpected attack from the member for Grayndler. He is a member who just cannot say anything positive, does not understand or appreciate the positive nature of Work for the Dole—what it does for individual self-esteem and employability and what it does for the community. I invite the member for Grayndler to actually sit down with some of these purposeful individuals, who are trying to do something for themselves and their community and build a better self-esteem and a better opportunity for themselves. That is what Work for the Dole does.

I am very well aware of the report in today's Melbourne press, which went on to be on 3AW today. And it was interesting, because a number of personnel that are participating in those particular programs rang the program. I have got some of them here. One was a 58-year-old. As a 58-year-old she, or this person, volunteered. Now she or `Dale'—I don't know whether Dale is male or female; I did not actually hear, I am just reading from the Media Monitors report—says: `I am 58 and I don't have many qualifications.' She, oh it is she, says she is unemployable and is defending Work for the Dole. This is the person that we are here to help—a 58-year-old, mature worker who wants a hand. We make no apologies for helping these people and for what they are doing.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.