Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) JobKeeper and employment services, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 25 September 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). JobKeeper and employment services. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/jobkeeper-employment-services
JobKeeper and employment services. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 16 September 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/jobkeeper-employment-services
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. JobKeeper and employment services [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2022 Sep. 25]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/jobkeeper-employment-services
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, JobKeeper and employment services, viewed 25 September 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/jobkeeper-employment-services
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A range of government policies and laws have an impact on the labour market – from taxation policy to trade relations. Those that more directly affect employment are typically considered, collectively, as ‘labour market policies’. Labour market policies in Australia include:
This page provides an overview of employment services and wage subsidies.
For an overview of unemployment payments, see Unemployment and parenting income support payments.
The information on this page is based on the latest available data at the time of finalising this snapshot in mid-July 2021.
The Australian Government funds employment services so that those on income support who may not be serviced by the private sector have access to support that will help them find and keep a job. The kinds of services typically included in employment services programs include:
Employment services primarily support recipients of specific income support payments, such as those receiving unemployment and parenting payments (see Unemployment and parenting income support payments). To continue to receive such payments, an individual may need to participate in an employment services program to meet mutual obligation (activity-testing) requirements.
This page focuses on the main employment services programs administered by the Australian Government.
jobactive: is the Australian Government’s key mainstream program to get more Australians into work. It connects participants with employers and is delivered by a network of jobactive providers in over 1,700 locations across Australia.
Disability Employment Services (DES) program: supports people with disability to prepare them to find – and keep – a job (includes help with resumé preparation and interview skills, in-workplace support for employers, and workplace modifications).
ParentsNext: aims to help parents of young children (in particular, those receiving a Parenting Payment) to plan and prepare for employment.
Transition to Work: aims to assist young people aged 15–24 into work (including apprenticeships and traineeships) or education through practical intervention and work experience.
Community Development Program: aims to support jobseekers in remote Australia to build skills, address barriers to employment and contribute to their communities through a range of flexible activities.
There are also several smaller targeted programs and complementary services. Complementary services (such as Work for the Dole and Youth Jobs PaTH) may be accessed through general employment services programs and form part of the package of services accessed by the participant.
The numbers of participants registered with the main employment services programs were:
Trend data are available for jobactive and the DES program. Together, these programs cover the majority of jobseekers using employment services.
Overall, between June 2016 and June 2021, the number of jobactive participants rose by 31%, from 773,300 to 1.01 million (Figure 1). However, very different trends were observed before and after 2020.
These changes are broadly consistent with patterns observed for recipients of unemployment payments in the 12 months to March 2021 (see Unemployment and parenting income support payments for further details).
Between 1 July 2015 and 30 April 2021, there were:
Between June 2016 and June 2021, the number of DES participants has increased considerably, an increase of 73% over this 5 year period or from 182,800 to 315,900 (Figure 1).
Data visualisation - Figure 1: People participating in jobactive or Disability Employment Services, June 2016 to June 2021
As at 30 September 2020, males accounted for 52% of jobactive and 51% of DES participants, compared with only 4.9% of ParentsNext participants (Senate Education and Employment Committee 2020; DESE 2021b).
As at September 2020, the age profile of each employment services program also differed substantially:
Some of the cohorts examined for jobactive, ParentsNext and DES mentioned in this section may have been targeted by separate employment services and therefore under-represented in these data.
To incentivise employers to employ disadvantaged jobseekers, the Australian Government has (or had) a range of wage subsidy programs. These include:
Employment service providers can use wage subsidies to encourage employers to hire participants from 5 eligible cohorts: mature age, long-term unemployed, Aboriginal and Torres Islander people, youth, and parents.
Wage subsidies of up to around $10,000 are available to eligible employers for eligible jobs.
Wage subsidies have been shown to be effective, if targeted at disadvantaged jobseekers (Borland 2016). As at 30 April 2021:
In March 2020, the Australian Government introduced the JobKeeper Payment. This payment, a fortnightly wage subsidy, was designed to support the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic by helping to keep businesses trading and people employed. Eligible organisations had to pay their employees the full JobKeeper amount (after tax) – regardless of whether an employee had undertaken any work – after which the organisation received the JobKeeper Payment from the Australian Tax Office.
The JobKeeper Payment was introduced at $1,500 per fortnight. Businesses (and some non-profits) were eligible if their turnover was:
Workers needed to be employed by 1 March 2020 to be eligible for the payment. In August 2020, this date was changed to 1 July 2020. Furthermore, casual employees had to be employed on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months to receive the payment.
In May 2020 and July 2020, further eligibility requirements were applied, including payments being no longer available for employees of child care services (from 20 July 2020), and those aged 16 or 17 had to be financially independent from their parents, or not studying full time, to be eligible (from 11 May 2020).
On 28 September 2020, the program was extended by 6 months and changes were made to the JobKeeper Payment (referred to as the JobKeeper Extension payment). To receive this payment, organisations now needed to show an actual decline in turnover during the September 2020 quarter compared with the 2019 September quarter, rather than an estimated or projected decline as required previously. The payment was also adjusted to $1,200 for people who worked 80 hours in the 28 days prior to the employee reference date or $750 for those who worked fewer hours in the 28 days prior.
In January 2021, to be eligible for the JobKeeper Extension payment, organisations again needed to show an actual decline in turnover (during the December 2020 quarter compared with a comparable quarter in 2019) and the payment was adjusted to $1,000 for those who worked 80 hours in the previous 28 days and $650 for those who worked fewer hours.
The program ended on 28 March 2021 (Department of the Treasury 2021, ATO 2021a).
The following data on JobKeeper Payment receipt on this page are sourced from previously unpublished data from the Australian Tax Office (Figure 2):
Between April and September 2020, similar proportions of employees in age groups 25–34 (22%), 35–44 (23%) and 45–54 (22%) received the JobKeeper Payment – with these 3 age groups accounting for 2 in 3 employees receiving the payment. These age groups also accounted for a similar proportion of the employed population.
For further information on how JobKeeper Payment receipt differed by age and sex, see ‘Chapter 4, The impacts of COVID-19 on employment and income support in Australia’ in Australia’s welfare 2021: data insights.
For more information on employment services, see:
ATO (Australian Tax Office) 2021a. JobKeeper Payment. Canberra: ATO. Viewed 9 June 2021.
ATO 2021b. JobMaker Hiring Credit Scheme. Canberra: ATO. Viewed 9 June 2021.
Borland J 2016. Wage subsidy programs: a primer. Australian Journal of Labour Economics 19(3):131–44. Viewed 3 April 2021.
DESE 2021a. jobactive and Transition to Work (TtW) data – June 2021. Canberra: DESE. Viewed 23 July 2021.
DESE 2021b. DES monthly data. Canberra: DESE. Viewed 13 August 2021.
JobKeeper Payment. Canberra: Department of Treasury. Viewed 1 July 2021.
Department of Health 2021. Aged Care Workforce Retention Bonus Payment for residential and home care workers. Canberra: Department of Health. Viewed 9 June 2021.
NIAA (National Indigenous Australians Agency) 2020. Community Development Program quarterly compliance data. Canberra: NIAA.
Senate Education and Employment Committee 2020. Answers to Questions: no. 432 on notice – Education, Skills and Employment Portfolio, 2020–21 Budget Estimates. 28 October 2020, portfolio question no. SQ20-001818. Canberra: Parliament of Australia.
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