SCOA welcomes large scale reform recommendations to rebuild the Commonwealth Employment Services System

Dec 3, 2023 | Media Release

The Settlement Council of Australia welcomes large scale reform recommendations to fundamentally rebuild the Commonwealth Employment Services System, and urges the government to employ a comprehensive model that prioritises a jobseeker’s strengths over the ineffective ‘one-size-fits all’ approach.

SCOA is particularly encouraged by the report committee’s key recommendations to move toward “an enhanced and—in some respects—radically different service model, which recognises that clients will have different pathways to employment, social and economic participation” and specialist services for First Nations and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse people.
SCOA CEO Sandra Elhelw said: “Australia’s employment support service system needs to be more accessible, multilingual, and person-centered.” 
“The current model is not working. Without tailored support from experienced settlement service providers, migrants and refugees will be left behind without the assistance they need to lead them on a successful career path.”
SCOA has tirelessly called on the government for more specialist employment services for migrants and refugees, including: 

  • More ‘CALD’ and ‘Refugee’ licenses to be issued in areas that have high caseloads of those cohorts;
  • Move away from privatisation to prioritise smaller community based providers to deliver specialist services for migrant and refugee cohorts.

“Specialist providers delivering migrant support services tend to be smaller localised not for profit organisations, therefore moving away from privatisation sets a better infrastructure for services to support migrants and refugees,” Ms Elhelw said.  
In addition, SCOA is calling for a model that increases ‘Refugee’ and ‘CALD’ licenses over ‘Generalist’ licenses. 
People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and refugees make up almost one quarter of the Workforce Australia jobseeker caseload, and yet only 13 of the 180 licenses are currently CALD or Refugee specialist licenses. SCOA believe this needs to increase dramatically if employment services are to reflect the caseload size of these cohorts, and provide the tailored services required. 
Employment is a key settlement outcome. “The overwhelming majority of migrants and refugees want to work, but our system is failing them and often placing them in jobs that don’t leverage their full potential. Our employment services are not set up well to address challenges such as language barriers,  skills recognition, and other unique elements of their experience,” Ms Elhelw added. 

“We are long overdue for a comprehensive approach that focuses on a job seeker’s strengths and employment readiness as opposed to a strict, compliance-focused model.” 
About The Settlement Council of Australia 
The Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) is the peak body representing services across Australia supporting new migrants and refugees. We are committed to building an Australia where every migrant and refugee feels at home, together with our membership which is over 115 members strong and counting. We are a trusted source of policy advice, and a thought leader on enhancing the economic and social inclusion of migrants and refugees. The services of our members range from greeting new arrivals at the airport, through to assisting them to secure housing, learn English, make social connections, access services and find their first job. Australia’s settlement services are recognised as being among the best in the world.