03 Mar 2023Media releases
ParentsNext overhaul a welcome step forward for parents and children
Recommendations to improve the ParentsNext employment program will deliver greater peace of mind and employment outcomes for parents experiencing unemployment, according to national non-profit organisation Settlement Services International (SSI).
The Parliamentary Committee on Workforce Australia this week released a report with recommendations to improve the ParentsNext program, which has been the subject of criticism, in part due to compliance mechanisms involving the suspension of income support for participants.
SSI General Manager, Service Delivery – Community Andrew Baechle said SSI welcomed the Committee’s conclusion that it was essential to continue providing tailored support to the cohort of parents currently participating in the ParentsNext program.
“Almost 20 per cent of ParentsNext participants are from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. We know from the work we do at SSI that these jobseekers require tailored support to overcome the unique challenges they face in seeking employment,” he said.
“While SSI supports the intent of the program – supporting parents of young children and experiencing disadvantage in pre-employment activities and in building social connections in their local community – there is significant room for improvement in the design and implementation in order to improve participants’ experiences and outcomes.”
Mr Baechle said the Committee gave strong consideration to feedback from service providers, such as SSI, and parents about the impacts of the targeted compliance framework and compulsion mechanisms.
“We believe that everyone should be able to exercise agency and control over their pathways to employment. Ultimately this leads to stronger and more sustainable employment outcomes.
“Moving away from the suspension of parenting payments as a compliance mechanism will reduce the threat of financial hardship and the associated anxiety and distress. This is a win-win for parents and children, and service providers alike,” he said.
Mr Baechle said the Committee’s recommendation of shifting towards support and incentives that encouraged voluntary participation was a welcome step forward.
“Trust and rapport are critical to programs of this nature, so that participants are open to expressing their aspirations and challenges and get the support they need.”
Mr Baechle also welcomed the Committee’s recommendation to introduce skills and competency standards to professionalise the workforce.
“Everyone deserves to have the opportunity to realise their full potential, and we hope that with appropriate review, an improved employment program will support parents to engage in meaningful, sustainable employment and deliver greater quality of life for themselves and their children.”
Settlement Services International (SSI) is a community organisation and social business that supports newcomers and other Australians to achieve their full potential. We work with all people who have experienced vulnerability, including refugees, people seeking asylum and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, to build capacity and enable them to overcome inequality.
Head of Executive Communications and Media, Hannah Gartrell
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