Employment: Investing in Regional Growth—2016-17

Employment is the foundation of Australia's economic strength and social wellbeing. Work helps individuals to fulfil their potential, families to thrive and communities to prosper and grow.

The Employment portfolio has a central operational and influencing role in advising on and delivering national economic and social initiatives to improve Australia's workforce participation, productivity and jobs growth.

Of particular benefit to regional Australia will be the Australian Government's new Youth Employment Package. Measures under this package include the Youth Jobs PaTH which aims to boost young people's job prospects by helping them be better prepared for the workplace and encouraging more businesses to hire them. The Youth Employment Package also includes measures to encourage young Australians to start a business and create their own job.

Measures under the Youth Employment Package build on the early achievements of the Youth Employment Strategy announced in the 2015-16 Budget. These include achievements through initiatives such as the Transition to Work service, Empowering YOUth Initiatives and ParentsNext, which provide individualised services for youth and parents to prepare for employment and build employability skills.

The jobactive employment services system introduced in July 2015 will also continue to deliver enhanced employment services to better meet the needs of job seekers and employers, covering regional Australia through a range of programmes designed to overcome barriers for job seekers to find and stay in employment. These include redesigned wage subsidies, the Relocation Assistance to Take Up A Job Programme, and a range of measures to assist young job seekers and others at a comparative disadvantage.

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New Initiatives

Youth Employment Package

The Government's $840 million Youth Employment Package, commencing 2016-17, aims to give young job seekers the employability skills and real work experience they need to get a job. The Youth Employment Package will be highly beneficial to regional Australia, particularly those areas experiencing high rates of youth unemployment. The main elements of the package will be available to job seekers in all jobactive regions across Australia.

Youth jobs PaTH—(prepare—trial—hire)

The core of the Youth Employment Package is a $752 million new Youth jobs PaTH for young job seekers under the age of 25 years. The pathway has three elements:

  • Prepare: employability skills training to help young job seekers better understand what employers expect of them in the workplace, and equip them with the skills, attitude and behaviours for them to be successful in a job. Starting from 1 April 2017, job seekers in jobactive who are aged under 25 years will receive employability skills training which is industry endorsed and evidence based to ensure young job seekers can be competitive in the labour market. The training will commence within five months of the job seeker being in employment services (unless extenuating circumstances exist).
  • Trial: a voluntary internship placement of between 4 and 12 weeks to give young job seekers a chance to show what they can do in a real workplace. From 1 April 2017, young job seekers under the age of 25 years who are registered with jobactive, Transition to Work or Disability Employment Services and have been in employment services for six months or more will be eligible. The internships provide incentives of $1,000 upfront to a business to host an intern and a $200 fortnightly payment to job seekers on top of their income support.
  • Hire: a new Youth Bonus wage subsidy to support the employment of young people. From 1 January 2017 a wage subsidy of between $6,500 and $10,000 for businesses who take on eligible job seekers will create further opportunities for young people. Wage subsidies will be streamlined, paid over six months, and give employers hiring young people more flexibility in how often instalments are paid (e.g. fortnightly, monthly).

Encouraging Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment

The Youth Employment Package also includes an additional $89 million investment in measures to encourage young Australians to start a business and create their own job. These measures build on the success of the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), which has been helping job seekers establish viable small businesses for over 30 years.

From December 2016, pathways for young people to pursue entrepreneurship will be enhanced by:

  • Establishment of two-week "Exploring Being Your Own Boss" workshops for up to 1000 young people per year to give them a taste of what is involved in self-employment and entrepreneurship;
  • Internship opportunities of up to 12 weeks for workshop participants to gain first-hand experience in what it takes to run a small business;
  • An additional 2,300 NEIS places per year and broadening of NEIS eligibility to provide access to the training and mentoring elements of the NEIS programme to job seekers not on income support;
  • Inclusive Entrepreneurship Facilitators will be appointed in three regions with high youth unemployment and low-uptake of self-employment to promote entrepreneurship and join up local services and programmes (such as jobactive, NEIS, microfinance services and start-up incubators); and
  • Entrepreneurship Starter Packs will be made available online and in hard copy to let young people know about the entrepreneurship support services and programmes available in their area, how these fit together and how they can access them.

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Current Initiatives

Growing Jobs and Small Business Package

The Growing Jobs and Small Business Package outlined in the 2015-16 Budget is helping employers take on unemployed job seekers, build employability, particularly for young people to transition to work, and strengthen job seeker obligations. The package includes the following employment initiatives of benefit to regional Australia.

Wage Subsidies

Wage subsidies support the Australian Government's broader objectives of increasing workforce participation. A wage subsidy not only encourages employers to take on eligible job seekers, but also assists them to fund job specific training that will allow job seekers to increase their skills and become fully productive employees. There are a number of wage subsidies available for employers who hire eligible job seekers, including long-term unemployed, Indigenous, parents, youth, and mature age job seekers aged 50 or over under the Restart programme. The Australian Government is also improving the design of the wage subsidies in the 2016-17 Budget by paying subsidies over six months, rather than the current 12 months and by reducing red tape for employers and enabling employers to choose more flexible arrangements.

National Work Experience Programme

The National Work Experience Programme gives employers the opportunity to develop the skills of potential employees and test their suitability with lower risk and lower financial burden of hiring. Eligible job seekers can undertake voluntary work experience in businesses for up to 25 hours per week for four weeks. Participants continue to receive their income support payment and a supplement to assist with the costs of participating.

Transition to Work

The new Transition to Work service for young people aged 15 to 21 years commenced in February 2016 and is delivered in 51 employment regions across Australia, including regional areas. Transition to Work service providers offer intensive pre-employment support to participants to improve their work readiness and help them into work or education. They will support young people through strong connections with employers, community services and schools in their local area.

Empowering YOUth Initiatives

Empowering YOUth Initiatives are funding community based organisations to deliver innovative approaches to support vulnerable young people onto the pathway to sustainable employment. The first 19 initiatives will commence by 30 June 2016.

Engaging Early School Leavers

The Engaging Early School Leavers measure commenced on 1 January 2016 and aims to improve employment prospects for young people who have not completed high school by ensuring they are doing activities that help them into work or study. The measure introduces a new job search requirement that early school leavers must look for work if they are not in full-time education or a combination of education and part-time work.


New ParentsNext projects commenced in 10 designated Local Government Areas from 4 April 2016, including several regional areas. ParentsNext providers will work with eligible parents in these areas to help them plan and prepare for employment by the time their children are at school.


On 1 July 2015 the Australian Government introduced the jobactive employment services model to better meet the needs of job seekers and employers, promote stronger workforce participation and build a prosperous economy. jobactive is delivered from over 1,700 sites across Australia. jobactive providers have the flexibility to deliver services based on the needs of job seekers and employers, tailored to local labour market conditions. For the first time, specific Indigenous Outcome Targets have been incorporated into the jobactive performance framework to increase providers' focus on outcomes for Indigenous job seekers in regional and other parts of Australia.

Employment Fund

All jobactive providers across Australia have access to the Employment Fund which is a flexible pool of funds that can be used to assist eligible job seekers to build the experience and skills to get and keep jobs. The Employment Fund has a focus on training that meets the specific needs of job seekers and employers, work-related items including clothing and safety equipment, post-placement support to help a job seeker stay in the job, work-related licencing and driving lessons which are of particular importance to job seekers in rural and remote locations. The use of the Employment Fund is at the determination of the jobactive provider.

New Enterprise Incentive Scheme

The New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) currently helps up to 6,300 participants per year to start and manage their own small business. NEIS provides nationally accredited small business management training, mentoring and business advice for up to 52 weeks. NEIS Allowance is also provided to eligible NEIS participants for up to 39 weeks. Where eligible, NEIS participants can also receive Rental Assistance for up to 26 weeks. From December 2016, an additional 2,300 NEIS places per year will be available and NEIS eligibility will be broadened to provide access to the training and mentoring elements of the NEIS programme to job seekers not on income support. The scheme will also offer two-week "Exploring Being Your Own Boss" workshops for up to 1,000 young job seekers a year followed by an offer of internship with a small business, to encourage young people to consider self-employment as a pathway to employment.

Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job Programme

The Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job Programme helps to connect job seekers to regional jobs by providing practical and financial assistance to eligible long-term unemployed job seekers who relocate to take up ongoing work. The Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job Programme provides relocation payments of up to $6,000 for eligible job seekers who move to a regional area or up to $3,000 for eligible job seekers who move to a metropolitan area either from a regional or metropolitan area with higher unemployment. Families with dependent children will receive up to an extra $3,000.

Work for the Dole

The jobactive Work for the Dole programme was rolled out nationally on 1 July 2015. Work for the Dole provides work-like experiences for job seekers across Australia to help improve their job prospects and develop the employability skills employers are seeking, as well as meeting their mutual obligation requirements. At the same time, Work for the Dole provides an opportunity for job seekers to give back to their local community. From 1 October 2016 all job seekers move into the Work for the Dole phase after 12 months in employment services.

Employer and Employee Engagement

The Department of Employment undertakes employer engagement activities which complement the role of jobactive providers. The objective is to understand the job creation challenges and opportunities being experienced, promote the services and incentives offered to employers through jobactive, and connect employers with those employment services. The activities undertaken depend on the circumstances and specific needs of a particular region, industry or cohort. These range from the running of workshops, information sessions, roundtables and jobs fairs, to facilitating projects that support job seekers to be more competitive for local job opportunities. The Employment portfolio works closely with employers and employees to ensure the workplace relations system is flexible and will encourage employment.

Protection for Unpaid Employee Entitlements

The Australian Government provides a safety net to protect unpaid employment entitlements for employees who lose their job through the liquidation or bankruptcy of their employer. Employees in this situation may claim financial assistance under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee for unpaid wages, annual leave, long service leave, payment in lieu of notice and redundancy pay. Some eligibility conditions and payment thresholds apply.

Structural Adjustment Programmes

A number of structural adjustment programmes are in place to assist retrenched workers to transition to new employment as quickly as possible. They help to reduce the regional impacts of large-scale redundancies by providing retrenched workers from eligible companies with immediate access to intensive employment support services. Structural adjustment programmes are available for workers in automotive manufacturing, Tasmanian forestry, and in 2015-16 were introduced for BlueScope workers in the Illawarra, Queensland Nickel workers in Townsville, Arrium and Alinta workers in South Australia, and Caterpillar workers in Burnie. The programmes include employment facilitators in North Queensland, the Illawarra and North-West Tasmania.

Harvest Labour Services and National Harvest Information Service

Harvest Labour Services help growers to supplement local labour with out-of-area workers where there is an acknowledged shortfall in a local labour market during harvest periods.

Harvest Labour Services are delivered by five organisations through 15 sites across 11 harvest areas, in the Northern Territory and all States except Tasmania.

The National Harvest Labour Information Service coordinates and disseminates information about harvest-related work opportunities across Australia, including those areas not serviced by Harvest Labour Services.

Seasonal Worker Programme

The Seasonal Worker Programme contributes to the economic development of 10 participating countries by supporting workers to undertake certain low and unskilled jobs so they can work in Australia and send money back to their countries. It also assists Australian employers who are unable to source enough local workers to meet their seasonal labour needs by providing access to a reliable, returning workforce. The 10 countries participating in the Seasonal Worker Programme are Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, all of which experience challenges such as small economies, remoteness from larger markets and low levels of investment. The programme is led by the Department of Employment and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

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