Plenty to come with this huge scam, no wonder private training “Colleges” and the like are popping up like flies to a pile of shit.
Money for nothing, scrounge as much money as you can from the hopeless jobseekers and the desperate with pathetic unneeded useless courses unsuitable for their needs, and signing them to huge debt, all for the gov kickbacks.
Falsifying applications, interviews, outcomes for more gov bonuses. What is yet to come, is the people behind some of these companies are retired or ex Federal and State MP’s who were smart (silly) enough to jump on the band wagon! These payments amount to billions over the time, and most in need get nothing out of it, nor have their circumstances improved.
The bloody rich get richer and the poor stay poor. Some involved with ICAC are yet to be exposed on gov contracts to house these gov job seeker services. Wrapping up long over paid leases.
23rd February 2015
Now, a Four Corners investigation shows how the scheme is being manipulated and, at times, systematically exploited. Reporter Linton Besser reveals the corruption at the heart of the program aimed at helping some of this country’s most vulnerable people.
He travels to suburbs where unemployment is a way of life. He meets Kym, struggling to find work and pull her daughter out of a cycle of poverty.
There to help are private and not-for-profit job agencies, paid by the Government to help find work for Kym and others like her. These agencies have blossomed thanks to the privatisation of the Commonwealth Employment Service in 1998, and are thriving on contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Unemployment is now big business in Australia. Each year the Government spends about $1.3 billion on its welfare to work scheme.
But what happens when there are simply not enough jobs to go around?
What Four Corners discovers is a system open to abuse where the unemployed have become a commodity. Some agencies bend the rules, others break them.
“I would say about 80 percent of claims that come through have some sort of manipulation on them.” – Agency whistleblower
Four Corners goes inside the industry, finding shocking evidence of fraud, manipulation, falsified paperwork, and the recycling of the unemployed through temporary jobs.
Hours are bumped up, wages are inflated, and in many cases, vital evidence to support claims from the taxpayer appears to have been falsified. One former jobseeker tells Four Corners her paperwork appears to have been completely forged.
In recent years Government checks have forced some companies to pay back millions of dollars, but few are sanctioned. Former job agency employees say crucial internal records are adjusted in preparation for government audits.
“That, I guess, caused alarm bells for me… Claims that have been claimed, signatures that weren’t on them, and we were sort of told, you know, if the signature’s not on it, get it any way that you can.” – Former job agency employee
As the nation grapples with rising unemployment, Four Corners raises uncomfortable questions about the charities and profit-takers making a buck from Australia’s jobless.
“THE JOBS GAME”, reported by Linton Besser and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 23rd February at 8.30pm on ABC. The program is replayed on Tuesday 24th February at 10.00am and Wednesday at midnight. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm, ABC iview
Government recovers over $41 million worth of false claims after ‘rorting’ of Job Services Australia scheme
The Federal Government has clawed back more than $41 million worth of false claims by private employment agencies in just the past three years.
The agencies are contracted by the Government under a privatised welfare-to-work program called Job Services Australia, a sprawling $1.3 billion-a-year scheme designed to get the unemployed into work.
A Four Corners investigation has found rorting of the scheme is rampant. Forgery, manipulation of records and the lodgement of inflated claims for fees are widespread.
One former agency employee said he had seen “thousands” of jobseeker records doctored by his agency to support suspect claims against the taxpayer.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, have been recouped at times by the department.Rupert Taylor-Price
The managing director of a private employment agency told Four Corners: “There are incentives to be involved in sharp practices from a financial and performance perspective.”
“We had to do the same thing [because] everyone was doing it,” the source said.
“The Government does not want to expose the whole industry.”
Three years ago a top-level inquiry into just one type of fee found spectacular rates of failure, forcing cancellation of that particular fee and prompting industry-wide ructions.
Ominously, the inquiry noted that just 40 per cent of the claims it examined could be confirmed by documentary evidence, or by the testimony of jobseekers and their employers.
The Abbott administration has made some changes to the scheme that take effect mid-way through this year.
But critics say these changes will do little, if anything, to stop widespread gaming of the contract.
Only one in 10 enjoy ‘a better chance of gaining employment’
The ABC has learned that fraud investigators attached to the Department of Employment have launched probes into many of the major agencies contracted to the program since its inception in 1998.
For-profit companies, including the market leader, Max Employment, have been investigated for particular allegations, as well as well-loved Australian charities including the Salvation Army.
There are a variety of means by which the contract is exploited.
The ABC is not suggesting that any particular agency is engaged in the full range of rorts, or other means by which the contract can be optimised.
But despite a long parade of whistleblowers detailing allegations of the misappropriation of taxpayer funds by some agencies, and highly questionable practices by others, the government has declined to detail instances where it has ever sanctioned any single agency operating under the scheme.
But what the department does is only reclaim those from the failures it finds. So even if you are going to put in claims that have a failure rate, you’re still going to have a lot of them not found and keep the money … there’s still an incentive to make the claim.Rupert Taylor-Price
In one case to be examined on Four Corners, investigators were forced to shelve their inquiries when they discovered a departmental official had explicitly told the agency that it could still collect fees for services the Government knew had never been delivered.
Rupert Taylor-Price, whose software company analyses government data generated by the program, says the scheme is being routinely “optimised” to the detriment of jobseekers.
“Hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, have been recouped at times by the department,” Mr Taylor-Price said.
“But what the department does is only reclaim those from the failures it finds.
“So even if you are going to put in claims that have a failure rate, you’re still going to have a lot of them not found and keep the money … there’s still an incentive to make the claim.”
He says he believes only one in 10 participants in the program enjoy “a better chance of gaining employment”.
The program was created 17 years ago, when the Howard government effectively privatised the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES).
The new policy created a pseudo-marketplace of jobseekers who were forced under Centrelink’s rules to attend private agencies, which would be paid to find them work.
Since then, more than $18 billion has been spent on the welfare to work program – first labelled Job Network, and now known as Job Services Australia.
It has been a cheaper scheme than the CES, but critics say it has also been far less helpful at assisting long-term unemployed people back into work.
‘You can’t make people search for jobs that aren’t there’
Academics and experts have repeatedly pointed out the glaring paradox at the heart of the program: how can these agencies have any impact on the unemployed when the number of jobless far outstrip the number of job vacancies?
“[The welfare to work program] patently hasn’t worked,” said Professor Bill Mitchell, director of Newcastle University’s Centre of Full Employment and Equity.
“It’s an impossible task … there’s not enough jobs to go around. You can’t make people search for jobs that aren’t there, and that’s the dilemma of the whole system.
“We’ve had a demand-side constraint – not enough jobs – and all this vigorous energy and money being poured into a supply-side initiative as if that’s the problem.”
Periodically, the jobs program has been mired in scandal. A major Productivity Commission inquiry in 2002 made adverse findings about the program, including that the long-term unemployed were being “parked”.
It’s absolutely vulnerable to exploitation.Former senior departmental investigator
Just three years after Job Network was launched, one prominent job agency was accused of shovelling thousands of people into phoney jobs.
In what has become a pattern, a subsequent inquiry cleared the agency of fraud but demanded the repayment of thousands of dollars.
Insiders have told Four Corners that department managers have been reluctant to tighten up the program’s governing contract to prevent blatant rip-offs.
“It’s absolutely vulnerable to exploitation,” said a former senior departmental investigator.
He said he had significant doubts about the will of successive governments to root out the fraud perpetrated against the contract.
“The department was more interested in getting its money back [than sanctioning agencies] … it’s very politically-driven,” the former investigator said.
The Department of Employment provided figures to Four Corners which showed that millions of dollars are routinely recouped from agencies, as a result of audits, self-identification by agencies and other “program assurance activities”.
In 2011–2012, $8.34 million was recovered.
The figure spiked to $23.81 million the following year after the inquiry into one particular type of fee.
And last year, another $9.12 million was reclaimed.
A department spokesman said typical repayments by agencies amounted to “less than 1 per cent of the amount paid each year”, and said it had “robust systems” to detect inappropriate claims for fees.
He would not answer a series of specific questions about past or current investigations conducted by the department.
“In cases of suspected fraud, matters are referred to agencies such as the Australian Federal Police and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions,” the spokesman said.
“Since 2006 the Department has made 38 referrals to the appropriate authorities.”
RESPONSES TO FOUR CORNERS
Statement in response – Four Corners Interview Request | 30 January, 2015
Statement by Salvation Army in response to Four Corners | 5 February, 2015
Letter of concern regarding the Job Network | November 1999
Job Services Australia review and evaluation | Department of Employment | 2014
Labour Force Figures, January 2015 | Australian Bureau of Statistics
Management of Services Delivered by Job Services Australia | Australian National Audit Office | 2013/14
ACOSS submission to APESAA | 2012
Rethinking Australia’s Employment Services | Whitlam Institute | UWS | 2011
A review of developments in the Job Network | Research Paper | Paliamentary Library | 24 December, 2007
Centerlink Quarterly Breach Data | Participation and activity test requirements and penalties for workforce age payments | 20 September 2003
Wage Subsidies | Job Access
Parliamentry Debate | Job Network question to Tony Abbott then Minister for Employment Services | 7 December, 1998
Unemployment | Topic Page | ABC News | Regularly Updated
Young Australians are not giving up on work, despite high unemployment | The Guardian | 17 February 2015
REMINDER: Why employment and unemployment are both rising in Australia | Business Insider | 16 February 2015
Social Service Agency Reacts to Welfare Contractor’s Controversy | Voice of OC | 17 June, 2014
Australia Unemployment Rate 1978-2015 | Trading Economics | 12 February, 2015
Job seeker funding still open to fraud, despite fee reforms | Sydney Morning Herald | 22 April, 2013
Federal Agency Finds Workfare Contractor Violated Wage Law | New York Times | 1 September, 2000
Job Services Australia | The Australian Government employment services system that supports job seekers and employers.
Jobs Australia | The national peak body for nonprofit organisations that assist unemployed people to get and keep jobs