In response to the pressures of structural change in the automotive, forestry and mining industries, the Department provides structural adjustment programs to assist retrenched workers to find new employment as quickly as possible. In 2015–16, the Department managed structural adjustment.These programs are delivered as part of jobactive, and have been set up to provide retrenched workers with tailored assistance and access to intensive employment services.As a part of several structural adjustment programs, in 2015–16 the Department appointed three regional employment facilitators in Tasmania, North Queensland and the Illawarra region in New South Wales. They provide a local point of contact and, in collaboration with jobactive providers, work directly with retrenched workers to connect them with training, job opportunities and other support. epson adjustment program The Geelong employment facilitator has been in operation since 2013 to assist people affected by Geelong’s economic transition and to identify and deliver new job opportunities across the region. In 2015–16, the facilitator helped to create employment opportunities in the digital sector, supported the development of small business opportunities in the region, and brought local businesses together to help them increase their ability to innovate to achieve growth and employment. National Automotive Governance Committee Representatives from the Department participate in the National Automotive Governance Committee. The committee was established in 2014 and consists of representatives from the Australian Government, the governments of South Australia and Victoria, GM Holden and Toyota Australia. The committee meets quarterly to support implementation of the redeployment strategy, which aims to equip workers with the information, skills and support they need to successfully transition to new jobs when Australia’s automotive manufacturing operations close by the end of 2017. In March 2016, the Department held a Jobs Fair in Burnie, Tasmania, to promote employment opportunities and services to the local community. More than 1,000 members of the community attended the fair, which had 53 exhibitors and promoted around 150 local job opportunities.Exhibitors at the fair included small and large employers, industry associations, government agencies, employment providers, educational institutions and apprenticeship advisers. There were also information sessions on the local labour market and tips for writing a résumé. More than 100 employers attended the workshops and explored issues associated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement in early learning. The workshops established a collaborative space for stakeholders to consider ways to mprove the cultural competence of mainstream early childhood education and care services increase the proportion of Indigenous educators in the child care and early learning sector increase the engagement of Indigenous families and children in child care and early learning. Childcare providers made a number of commitments at the workshops, including creating a culturally inclusive centre and supporting the employment of Indigenous trainees.The Department will continue to work with employers to strengthen employment outcomes for Indigenous job seekers. The Seasonal Worker Programme is administered by the Department with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Austrade and the Fair Work Ombudsman.The program contributes to the economic development of Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste by providing access to work opportunities in the Australian agriculture, accommodation and tourism industries. It also offers Australian employers access to a reliable seasonal workforce. Citizens from eligible countries can work in Australia for up to nine months.In 2015–16, the Department approved 4,772 seasonal worker placements and 1,902 seasonal workers undertook Australian Government–funded skills training. In 2015–16 the Department implemented changes to the program as part of the Developing Northern Australia White Paper, including expanding it to the broader agriculture sector and implementing a trial in the tourism industry in northern Australia. From 1 July 2015 the annual cap on program places was removed. Demand is now driven by employers’ needs for labour, subject to testing the domestic labour market and offering work to Australian job seekers first.The Department is continuing to work to ensure that strong protections and support are in place for seasonal workers. The Department made 17 workplace visits across Australia during 2015–16. Approved employers must be in a sound financial position and demonstrate a history of compliance with Australian workplace relations and immigration legislation and practice. In 2015–16, 69 employers were approved to participate in the program for a period of up to three years, up from 58 employers in 2014–15.The Department also coordinated a multi-agency submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration’s inquiry into the program. The committee tabled its report in May 2016.
Work visas and migration programs The Department advises the Government on employment issues in relation to migration policy and programs and free trade agreements (including temporary entry commitments, labour market, workplace rights and government procurement) and other international agreements and forums.
In 2015, the Department coordinated a whole-of-government submission and appeared at the public hearings of the Senate inquiry into the impact of Australia’s temporary work visa programs on the Australian labour market. The Department also provided data and contributed to consultations for the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the migrant intake into Australia.
The Department provided labour market research, analysis and advice to the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration.
The Department collaborated with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on a research project on the experiences of temporary residents.
The Department supported the establishment of the Ministerial Working Group on Protecting Vulnerable Visa Holders to consider measures to improve protections for these workers. The Department worked collaboratively with other government agencies to support the Ministerial Working Group in its examination of the intersection of migration, workplace relations and taxation laws.
The Government established Taskforce Cadena in May 2015 to investigate illegal practices in temporary visa programs. The Department became a member of the taskforce in early 2016, after it was prescribed under the Taxation Administration Regulations 1976.