Abbott's job search changes described as one-sided and harsh

THE Australian Council of Social Service has described the Abbott government's proposed changes to job search requirements as one-sided and harsh.

The government, under a suite of reforms introduced on Monday, will make it mandatory for jobseekers aged 18 to 49 to work for their welfare payments from July 1 next year.

Jobseekers will be required to conduct 40 job searches per month - two every working day - or face losing their dole payments.

In order to keep their benefits, jobseekers aged 18 to 30 will be required to work 25 hours per week while people aged 31 to 49 will be required to work 15 hours per week.

Those over 50 will have the option of participating in the program.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said Australia's employment services system was based on the notion of mutual obligation.

"New requirements appear to be designed to make unemployment unattractive rather than assist people obtaining employment," she said.

"There is too much activity for activity's sake and not enough flexible investment in what works, such as wage subsidies and vocational training relevant to the labour market.

"The proposed expansion of the Work for the Dole program is likely to be expensive and ineffective."

Employment Minister Eric Abetz said on Monday the government would invest $5.1 billion over three years to reinvigorate employment services for the benefit of jobseekers and employers.

"The government is committed to helping more Australians move from welfare to work and increasing workforce participation," he said.

"In order to achieve this, it is vital that our publicly funded employment system delivers high quality services to jobseekers and effective, tailored support to employers."

Opposition Education Minister Brendan O'Conner said the work-for-the-dole scheme could make the unemployment problem worse.

He said the government needed to be upfront and disclose full details of the scheme.

"You do not want to have activities which will impede rather than help jobseekers find work, and that can happen," he said.

"It can be counter-productive if they are engaging in activities that are irrelevant and are in fact taking them away from searching for work."

Work for the dole currently applies to jobseekers aged up to 30, who have been out of work for a year, in 18 locations of high unemployment around the country.

Those locations include Tweed Heads, Lismore, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast and Maryborough.

Recipients have to work 15 hours per week for six months to receive welfare payments.