Under the influence of neo-liberal ideology and through the Liberal National coalition government policies, Job Network - the development of a contestable market for publicly funded employment placement services - has been implemented in Australia for the last seven years. Several studies have been conducted to examine its successes, failures and limitations, so that it may be further improved to deliver better outcomes for employment seekers. As rural areas generally experience several social, economic, political and geographic disadvantages, more so in regard to unemployment issues and labour market conditions and opportunities, this paper looks at some experiences and views of employment officers in regard to the operation of Job Network in a large country town in the Riverina region. Drawing on interviews, a focus group and secondary data, the paper analyses employment officers' perceptions of the impact of Job Network on, and problems experienced by, other employment agencies. It identifies several roles performed by employment officers and explores approaches followed by them to help job seekers under the intensive assistance program. The analysis suggests some gaps and barriers in assisting job seekers with difficult circumstances. Job Network may need to try alternative innovative and flexible approaches to address some of the gaps and barriers so that the most disadvantaged unemployed people can be enabled to participate in the job market. However, such trials may not be adequate unless we address people's values and attitudes and the social, economic and political structural Issues that are changing the nature of work and unemployment.
|Number of pages||18|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|