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The House of Representatives Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services (the Committee) was established on 2 August 2022 to undertake a first principles review of the Workforce Australia employment services system.

On 14 September 2022, the Employment and Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Burke, requested that the Committee include pre-employment and complementary programs in the scope of its inquiry. In particular, the Minister requested that the Committee examine the role of ParentsNext in providing early intervention to parents and carers as part of the overall employment services system.

It has become clear throughout the inquiry that many participants derive significant benefits from ParentsNext, including increased confidence, connections to vital local services, and support achieving education and employment goals. However, these benefits can be overshadowed by the punitive nature of the current program, and by an emphasis on preparing for and finding employment which may not be appropriate for all participants.

This interim report puts forward the evidence obtained during the inquiry and sets out the Committee’s views and recommendations.

Key recommendations:

  • ParentsNext be abolished at the end of its current contracts and replaced with a supportive pre-vocational service developed via a co-design process and called ‘Your Future Planning’.
  • To allow sufficient time for a co-design process and not leave vulnerable parents without support, the current contracts be extended for the shortest time necessary.
  • In the interim, significant changes be made to ParentsNext to address the most serious concerns identified, predominantly in relation to the participation, reporting and compliance regimes and how Services Australia engages with people and providers.
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