New crowdsourced app rates Australian employment service providers

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Australians can now rate companies that prepare welfare recipients for work with a crowdsourced review platform launched by an unemployed workers’ advocacy group.

Australians seeking the JobSeeker payment are typically linked to an employment service provider with whom they must regularly meet. An industry has emerged of these privatised commercial providers who are paid by the government to help these welfare recipients find a job, improve their CV, or other tasks.

The Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union (AUWU) is set to launch its employment services provider real-time automated tracking service in an effort to hold the industry accountable.

“Seeing as the government has abdicated its responsibility to properly regulate their own industry, we’ve decided to do it for them, on the largest possible scale,” an AUWU spokesman, Jez Heywood, said in a post about the platform.

The service is a website app that combines a searchable database of service providers with a rating, service type and location. The rating is determined by a peer-reviewed system developed by David O’Halloran and Simone Casey. It also scrapes all the comments on the federal government’s JobSearch list of providers.

So far, the AUWU’s survey has 242 responses that users can view by using the map or by searching by type of program. The app even includes a “wall of shame” for the worst-reviewed providers.

Heywood says the union decided to launch its own rating system after a previous government-run “star” system was scrapped.

“It’s ludicrous that, after all these decades of the privatised employment services system, there has been no independent body to rate job agencies, document their bad behaviour, and bring them into line,” the post says.

In 2020, documents obtained by The Guardian revealed that more than 5000 payments for placing welfare recipients in jobs or education had been recouped — totalling more than $1 million — from service providers since 2015.

On July 1, the government employment service, jobactive, will be replaced with Workforce Australia.

This article was first published by Crikey.

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