Job Network: Changing Community Sector Values

David Abelló, University of New South Wales
Helen MacDonald, Brotherhood of St Laurence


In 1998, the Howard Government instituted one of its most bold policy reforms, the Job Network, making a ‘market-place’ of what had been the public employment service: the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) and its network of contracted services. This paper provides selected findings from a study on the impact of the Job Network on non-profit providers, conducted during 1999 and 2000. At that time, competition was fostering some innovative practices by agencies, but was also introducing conflicts between the traditional community sector orientation towards information sharing and cooperation and the need to guard market knowledge and power. The requirement to police job seeker attitudes, activities and compliance with ‘mutual obligation’ was beginning to cause tensions within organisations that had traditionally rejected this kind of approach.

David Abelló works at the Social Policy Research Centre, at the University of New South Wales. His research interests include unemployment, the labour market, employment policy, disability and income support, disability employment policy, mental health policy and social movements. He has been active over the last 18 years in community-based employment service delivery. Helen MacDonald works in the Policy and Research Unit of the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne. Over the last 13 years she has been researching policy and managing projects in employment, education and training, with a particular interest in the position of young people in the labour market.

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