How would this thread respond to someone who asked for an opinion on work-for-the-dole?

It's not something I've ever looked into at great length so my understanding of it is basically limited to the fact that it doesn't actually help get people off welfare and into full-time employment:

The gist of that article is that people on work-for-the-dole are precluded from engaging in training that helps them develop skills that will see them in full time work rather than dependent on welfare.

It also points out that work-for-the-dole jobs are, by their very nature, unstable and unreliable, neither long-term nor sustainable.

It also compares it to Brotherhood of St Laurence projects where money is invested in the unemployed to train them up for work, which seems expensive but delivers longer term social savings.



Most work for the dole I've seen has been token casual make work stuff. The one benefit against all the negatives was that it was at least doing something with your time than feeling suicidal and skulling goon. One that stuck out in my mind was someone doing photocopying for the dole. Its something true, but fucking useless for the real world. Yes, yes you can bullshit around it and lie on your references but you know what I mean. http://www.australianapprenticeship...come-apprentice

Government programs which actually provide skills are better, as well as the government apprenticeships where you could do your apprenticeship with council or state government.


The Conversation has a nice article on why Work for the Dole doesn't work covering a few extra points:


Participants were less likely to move off payments. Six months after commencing in the Work for the Dole program, 71.4% of participants were still in receipt of unemployment payments, compared to only 59.1% of non-participants. There is growing international evidence of a ‘lock-in’ or ‘attachment’ effect during program participation. For example, an evaluation of the Community Work Program in New Zealand found that many participants viewed their work experience placements as ‘work’ and therefore did not engage in job search activity.

Unemployed who have done Work for the Dole however never completely caught up to others in the likelihood of moving off welfare payments. One possibility to explain this absence of catch-up is that there is a permanent ‘scarring’ effect on Work for the Dole participants. This might be due to behavioural changes in payment recipients as a result of doing Work for Dole, or to employers stigmatising Work for the Dole participants. Evidence of employer stigma effects is the unwillingness of unemployed persons to reveal to employers offering jobs in which they are genuinely interested that they are involved in intensive activity test requirements.

In a review of the effects of labour market programs in the United States, the Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman has written: “studies consistently report that these programs have no impact (or sometimes even a negative impact) on youth’s earnings.”


I think the concept of individual "productivity" is a cancer on our society. The aim of any sane society should be towards the physical and mental safety and wellbeing of the people within it. Most opposition to welfare that I've encountered is born out of a belief that people are required to justify their right to be alive by meeting an arbitrary standard of productivity. I'm not supposing we all just stop working, since that would lead to a collapse in the infrastructure required to keep us all safe and well, but you really have to wonder what all this "productivity" is supposed to be for. I suspect close to half of it contributes nothing but stress to people's lives for the sake of a bigger GDP.


But assuming that at least some small percentage of people will always be like that... what should we do with them? If you want to see them punished instead of coddled, what will happen to them? At this point, the person you're arguing with may rationalize things because they believe that once the evil dole bludger has been forced to see the error of their ways, they'll shape up into a good worker and start earning their way. Maybe for a couple of them, it will work and you shave that small percentage down a little bit. But you'll also shove more people into desperation, and possibly into criminal behaviour if their literal survival is literally on the line. (e: and also make it harder for them to find a job if they don't have money to buy a nice suit or go to networking events or pay for a resume service etc etc etc)

If the goal here is to make those dole bludgers productive members of society, how are they going to get there once you lock them up in prison, or drive them to mental illness so they can't function, or onto the streets to become homeless and practically an untouchable? Even if we accept the idea that they were just worthless dole bludgers... at least while they're dole bludging they'd be spending that dole money on things to keep the economy moving. Spending that money on things that keep your workplace in business! And as an enlightened person with responsible financial skills, you can save your work money while they throw it away on fleeting pleasures and you can still act all worthy and better than them, without having them bug you on the streets for change.


That's the important thing to establish, that our system ensures there will always be people at the bottom. Everyone could have an IQ of 150, a faultless work ethic and be willing to do anything to get ahead in life, and some would still be some people cleaning toilets and sweeping streets purely due to the fact that's how the system works. So appealing to anecdotes about individuals who might deserve it isn't a good argument for the abolishment of welfare wholesale. Certainly people defrauding the system should face consequences for that, however I would rather that some people who might not deserve it do get it, than that those who need it don't.


This report states it costs 20-28% more when they outsource a worker.



If you don't like people being on welfare, you have to support whatever works best at getting them off welfare. There is nothing wrong with getting fit and capable people to do things in order to access their welfare. QUESTION: What are you going to make them do to access their welfare?

I hope it's not work-for-the-dole because that SUCKS at getting people off welfare - and that is what you want, right?

The previous work-for-the-dole program basically gave people busy work that was short-term, unstable, unsustainable and didn't provide the workers with any skills that would help them get and hold full time employment. This is not an opinion, it is a fact. Of people who work for the dole, only 14% of them have full time employment three months afterwards.

If you have the time and the patience I'd really, really encourage you to read that. It is really interesting and compares Australian programs with ones from around the world, and figures out what works. Again, it's better than an opinion, it's a set of facts.

So, what DOES work for getting people off welfare? Giving them training and education (including ON-THE-JOB training and education). But that's not what work for the dole is about. Under the previous work for the dole scheme, people got $800 to do training. The TAFE course to become a child care worker is over $16k. A motor mechanics course is over $15k.

As for on-the-job training and education, this is hugely unlikely in WFTD because WFTD specifically doesn't take work away from the regular job market, which means (a) WFTD is going to involve petty busy work, and (b) you're not going to get trained to do stuff that the job market wants.

If WFTD involved work that would otherwise go to the general job market, well, you're fucking over anyone who's looking for a job: Plenty of the jobs they might've been able to access for at least the minimum wage ($31k a year) are now reserved for WFTD (Newstart is $16k a year). So basically that creates more unemployed people and allows employers to exploit workers by getting them to work for the dole rather than the minimum wage.

Mate, you watch a lot of TV, I highly highly recommend you find time to watch this: It's good for seeing what the dole actually looks like, and what help people need to get off it.

If you want a short easy to read article about work for the dole, here:

Again, the upshot is that while you're making someone do shitty work for the dole, you are wasting time that they could spend looking/training/studying/upskilling for work.

The facts are that work-for-the-dole is really bad for getting people off welfare: "Participants were less likely to move off payments. Six months after commencing in the Work for the Dole program, 71.4% of participants were still in receipt of unemployment payments, compared to only 59.1% of non-participants."

Work for the Dole FAQ

Single parents on Newstart allowance reveal decline in nutrition, mental health and large debts