Labor unveils ‘clean slate policy’ as part of last-minute tweak to controversial jobseeker reforms

Jobseekers who have accrued penalties or demerits under Australia’s outgoing employment services program will have their slates wiped clean, under a Labor pledge made just days before a controversial new system comes into effect.

From next Monday, a new service called Workforce Australia will replace the jobactive scheme, which required jobseekers to submit 20 job applications a month to keep their Centrelink payments.

The Workforce Australia changes — including a new points-based system for mutual obligations — have been criticised by some social services advocates for being poorly communicated, leading to high levels of fear and confusion that are yet to be fully resolved.

New Employment Minister Tony Burke said earlier this month it was “too late” to scrap the changes — which were passed under the Morison government —  so Labor would look to alter things instead.

Those changes were announced on Tuesday afternoon, along with the new, “clean slate” policy.

“The previous federal government locked in the points system — and signed more than $7 billion worth of contracts with providers — shortly before the election. But it never properly explained the new system to the Australian people,” Mr Burke said in a statement.

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