May 12, 2017

Work for the dole is endangering workers without a safety net

Workers who are on work for the dole are unable to raise issues of training and workplace safety -- and there is no compensation if they get hurt on the job.

Charlie Lewis — Journalist

Charlie Lewis


The law is failing people engaged on the work for the dole program -- inadequate training and fear of reprisal if they raise safety issues can lead to injury, and when they do get hurt at work, there is no safety net for them. 

Work for the dole is the government program where jobseekers are forced to engage in work for not-for-profits or government organisations in order to maintain their Centrelink payments. Safety issues on Work for the Dole sites has been under greater scrutiny since the death of Josh Park-Fing on a WFD site last year.

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12 thoughts on “Work for the dole is endangering workers without a safety net

  1. Graeski

    Jeez, Crikey, be careful will ya? Don’t you know what a turn-on articles like this are for Liberal/IPA types? “I heard a loud ‘pop’ coming out of my hip, and felt sharp electric pain go up my back.” I swear I heard the heavy breathing emanating from Canberra all the way down here in Melbourne. If you don’t display a little more discretion in what you choose to publish then you’ll be giving them orgasms all across the country.

  2. Anniejean

    Strange how people who “work for the dole” legally up to thirty hours a week dot get pro rata super payments

  3. Craig Donohue

    In relation to the workers’ compensation, this article is somewhat misleading. The idea that there is no ‘safety net’ for injured workers is incorrect. According to a government info sheet:

    “To cover job seekers while they are participating in Work for the Dole activities, the Australian Government has purchased:

    1. Personal accident insurance for an injury or death that occurs during activities, including any associated training, and travel to and from activities, and
    2. combined public and/or products liability insurance which covers job seekers’ liability arising out of their negligence that causes personal injury to third parties or damage to third parties’ property.

    The personal accident policy is not a workers’ compensation policy. Participants in Work for the Dole activities do not generally qualify for workers’ compensation.”

    As a result WFD workers receive substantially the same as they would receive if they were covered under a statutory policy – other than income replacement of course which is given to them by the government already.

  4. drsmithy

    Work for the Dole is just slave labour by proxy.

    If there is work to be done, give people jobs and pay them a fair wage.

  5. Wayne Robinson

    If the government is requiring the unemployed to work for the dole, then it’s the employer.

    If someone on unemployment benefits is injured working for the dole, then a medical practitioner ought to be able to write a medical certificate if the person is unable to work, ensuring that the unemployment benefits continue.

    And the employer (that is, the government) ought to cover the cost of medical treatment.

    It seems to me to be reasonable that if the government is requiring ‘work for the dole’, then it also should accept responsibility if something goes wrong. And it would certainly concentrate their attention knowing that they bear ultimate responsibility even if the don’t have direct supervision over the work conditions.

    It also seems reasonable that the government should also be making superannuation payments.

  6. Dog's Breakfast

    Yet another scheme to keep wages depressed, and not employ local people, along with ‘trainseeship placements’ and 457 visas.

    No wonder there is so much unemployment for the low skilled, all their jobs are being done by work for the dole and traineeships (slavery) or by underpaid 457 visa workers. Businesses getting these benefits need to be closely scrutinised, how is this not increasing unemployment, the very thing that means they have to go on the dole in the first place.

  7. klewso

    You’re looking at this the wrong way – think of the money they save.

    1. Marjorie Carless

      Of course, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Life is cheap in Australia in 2017.

  8. AR

    The continuing mystery is why don’t the unions – forget the ALP which is too terrified of being wedged by the shoutjocks of Hateradio – see the threat this is to all working conditions?

  9. Andrew McIntosh

    Why aren’t the unions all over this?

    1. Charlie Lewis

      The Australian Unemployed Workers Union do a fair bit of advocacy in this area –

  10. Woodstock

    How disgraceful & inept, that Government is putting vulnerable people in this situation. Government is often referred to as the model employer. And bullshit “The law is failing people” Government, is, the respective Ministers are…..

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