The federal government will reportedly expand the work-for-the-dole scheme this year, with anyone turning down a job close to home losing their payment.
The “dole jobs”, including tasks such as rubbish collection and park maintenance, are likely to be limited to three-month stints to prevent employers replacing their permanent workforce with unemployed volunteers, News Corp Australia reports.
Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker told News Corp in comments published on Monday that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was “very focused” on expanding work-for-the-dole.
Mandatory work-for-the-dole was introduced under the Howard government in the 1990s, but the program was altered under Labor and unemployed people were no longer forced to participate.
Mr Hartsuyker said the coalition’s expanded scheme would be compulsory.
“I’m looking at new and innovative ways to involve people in work-for-the-dole,” he told News Corp.
“We are talking to not-for-profit entities about creating work-like placements for jobseekers so they can gain skills.
“We think everyone who is capable of working should be working.”
Mr Hartsuyker said anyone who refused to work would lose their Newstart payment.
“We take a very dim view of people who refuse a job and stay on benefits.”
But he added that most unemployed people on Newstart were genuinely searching for work, and some had been on the dole so long they had trouble finding employment.
“Very few people refuse jobs,” he said.
“Some people are challenged in finding work.”