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‘Pushes people into greater hardship’: Well-known charity cuts ties with Work for the Dole

‘Pushes people into greater hardship’: Well-known charity cuts ties with Work for the Dole

Key Points
  • The Brotherhood of St. Laurence has announced it has cut ties with the Work for the Dole program.
  • The organisation said the program is “not in the best interests” of people who are unemployed.
  • It’s calling on the government to avoid “box ticking” and focus on “local solutions” for unemployment.

One of Australia’s most well-known community services organisations has cut ties with the Work for the Dole (WFTD) program, saying it’s “not in the best interests of people who are unemployed”.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence, which has been operating since 1930, released a statement saying it will no longer accept volunteers referred through the WFTD program, which requires people to participate in ‘work experience’ as part of their

to receive support payments.

“If people do not engage when required, their payments may be suspended,”


“As unemployment payments are already

, this pushes people into even greater hardship.”

The Brotherhood – as it is commonly known – said the program contradicts its “mission, values and stated policy positions”. Its decision to no longer accept volunteers was developed late last year but publicly announced in January.

Instead, as part of its recommended changes to Australia’s employment services, the Brotherhood said the focus should instead be on investing in “people’s skills and capabilities rather than on compliance and box ticking,” and “locally focused responses”.

Work for the Dole under review

The announcement comes after the extensive findings stemming from the Albanese government’s inquiry into Australia’s employment services were published in December.


– but only if significantly reformed.

“The Committee recommends that Work for the Dole be retained primarily as a last resort activity for people who fail to meaningfully engage or comply with their Participation and Jobs Plan over the long term,”


The report also found that the program does not increase employability, fails to enable social participation, and creates “safety risks” in some cases.

It also “financially penalises” people forced to pay transport and meal costs “they cannot afford”, branding the situation “patently unfair and unrealistic”.

In a statement to SBS News regarding the Brotherhood’s decision, the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations said it is “carefully considering” the findings of the inquiry report, noting that it did not recommend ending the WFTD program.

“We will continue to work with stakeholders as we strengthen our employment services and address the issues highlighted in the report,” the statement reads.

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