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    Change Centrelink’s Activity Test

    While in many cases unemployed people want or need certain Centrelink supervision, in the case of an individual who would CHOOSE to do community work for an organisation that has itself already been approved, three current restrictions are inappropriate and unnecessary.

    i) community work is only allowed if it can be shown that it is likely to lead to paid employment or if the individual can satisfy the case manager that it will improve their employability;
    ii) approval is only given for a limited time.
    iii) those wanting to do community work for an approved organisation must have a third party (either Centrelink or its agent) to individually approve and “case manage” their activity;

    To understand why these restrictions should be scrapped, it is helpful to see unemployed people in three groups.

    The three groups are:

    1. Those who will not quickly find employment, and will not choose community work.

    Appropriate Centrelink intervention is needed for people in this group, but because they will not choose community work, any community work restrictions are irrelevant for them.

    2. The majority, who are keen to find employment and do so within 3 months. From within this group, some may wish to do community work. They may see it as a pathway to the job and the income they want, or perhaps as a way of staying productive.

    The three Centrelink restrictions are superfluous for this group because these people return to employment quickly through their own initiative.

    3. Those who will not quickly find employment, but would choose to do community work.

    The three restrictions i), ii) & iii) mentioned above, are inappropriate for this group because –

    • the incentive of a higher income will, by itself, see most of these people back into employment as soon as they can get it;
    • the current restrictions discount the value of continued community work, and a person’s autonomy and self-motivation are discouraged.
    • even if employment is not on the horizon, continuing with community work will still mean unemployment being a more productive experience, particularly for those people having trouble finding work in today’s highly competitive labour market;
    • developing new skills and staying active in the workplace increases employment potential;
    • the fact that someone has chosen to do 32 hours of community work in a fortnight should be evidence enough that they are strongly motivated and keen to participate;

    Community work should be a standard option on the fortnightly claim form. The random phone check, which Centrelink now uses in an attempt to verify job applications to employers, would verify with certainty claims of community work with organisations without any need for Centrelink involvement in arrangements between the volunteer and the organisation.

    If a person who had chosen community work decided not to continue, they would simply tick a different box on the form. This would indicate that they had been doing some other approved activity, such as study or job search.

    This simple change would also help create abundant sustainable work in which people could learn to build social housing & grow their own food ( see )


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    @landrights That sounds logical and we well reasoned policy approach I would agree with, pity logic or reason are not prime concerns around policy debate in australia.

  3. 3

    Owen Gary


    Dont want to rain on your parade but what about (group 4)
    The group that cant find work because there are not enough jobs. You are assuming there are more jobs out there than people looking for them.

    I fundemental you should be aware of and that has been known since not long after the industrial age commenced.

    Unemployment is kept nominally at around 5% to keep wages down and demand for jobs just where the “bankster world” like it. 2nd point to this governments control nothing, rather they just hang on to the strings that pull them.

  4. 4


    Hi Gary,
    I think my groups 1 plus 3 covers your group 4, right?

    I am suggesting a change that would serve those who won’t get paid employment but would like to do community work, whether there are enough jobs out there or not. That is, the number of paid jobs available is not the point, although I do agree that paid work is hard to find and is destined to get harder as globalisation proceeds.

    The response to the shrinking availability of paid work could be either to try to hold back the tide, or to find a way for people to be happy and able to achieve a secure and better life without paid employment. I think this can be achieved through “localism” and participation in voluntary community work.

    Chris Baulman


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