Emily's story - Here's what Jobactive is really like...


Emily had a plan after finishing high school - she was going to work to save money, so she could support herself through University.

Three years, 720 job applications and 4 interviews later, Emily is still looking for work.

Emily’s transition from high school to paid employment hasn’t gone as she hoped. Here’s her experience…

I’ve been trying to find a job for three years.

I started doing job search with a job provider three years ago. Basically, what they’re supposed to do is help you find a job and you’re supposed to apply for 20 jobs a month, every month until you get a job. I started that when I was 18, and still going.

I’ve got to go there once a week for job searching, and once a month for a person to person interview.

I had an appointment this morning and they literally just said “they’re a no jobs left”. It was crushing to be told that.

For ‘Job Club’, they cram 15 people in a small computer room and I have to sit at a computer for 2 hours and apply for jobs you’ve already applied for that you’re not even qualified to work - because there are no other ones and you just have to meet the 20 per month. You have to do an application form for each one.

I applied for some [jobs] and then they [job service provider] applied for some for me, which is nice but they don’t really take in your best interest.

Job Club is depressing and germy, because at least one person in that room is sick.

I have to go there to search for jobs, even though I have way better internet at my house and I don’t have to wait for 10 minutes for a screen to load.

There is no privacy at all, like if you’re in the computer room everyone can see what’s happening on your computer. It’s just an open door to the floor where we can feel free to go out and ask questions, but we don’t feel free at all. They get paid to sit and look over at us struggling.

 If you’re in the office space, I can see every worker and I can hear everyone’s conversations. At one point I accidentally heard someone’s password for their email.


I’ve had five different job provider workers in three years.

My [job service provider] worker has changed quite a few times. If they can’t find enough people jobs, then they lose theirs. As soon as a job interview doesn’t work out for me they get insanely upset at me because their job is on the line then. There’s no jobs left, so sooner or later all of them are going to lose their jobs as well.

I’ve had five workers over the last three years. My current worker, I’ve had her the longest but she hasn’t really done anything. The only thing that is different about her is that when I go in for interviews we actually have a conversation and she treats me like a human. Which I never knew should be something that’s rare. When I’m having my interview, there are people around me having their interviews too, and the other workers aren’t treating these people like they are humans.


They’ve sent me to the same training course three times

They [job service provider] sent me to a RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) course, and then a few months later they sent me to another RSA course and then I went to another RSA course, and then I did a barista course because it was part of a RSA course. They just want me to be able to serve alcohol. With one of the RSA courses, there was a gaming aspect so I can be a gaming attendant, but it still hasn’t done anything. At one point during the course, a close family friend died and I asked to have the day off, but they said I would have to come back next week and repeat the whole course.

So I came in and was just like sitting there all course weeping to myself.


They don’t care whether you’re a good fit for the job, they just want you to work.

They [job provider] apply for jobs on your behalf, and only contact you once they have confirmation of a job interview, if you’re like “that doesn’t work for me”, they are like “too bad, make it work”.

They [job service provider] don’t care if I can get home at the end of the night or not. They applied me for a job where it was being a waitress from 4 in the afternoon to 3 in the morning. I was like “but that’s not near my house, the buses stop how am I supposed to get home” and they were like “you’ll find a way”.

So I called the place and cancelled the interview and the job provider got mad at me for that, and I was like “but I can’t do that job”. They [job service provider] got mad because I didn’t do the interview.

I got a job interview for a place that I didn’t apply for in Victoria. I got an email about that. I didn’t do it.


I’ve lost faith that they’ll be able to help me find a job

The first month I was there it was just a course that I had to do, where they taught you what to wear at an interview, basic job seeking stuff, how to write a resume’, work ethic. I was like, this is fine, I know most of this it’s general knowledge.

Then I went to job club and was like hang on we have to sit in a room and apply for jobs online. They don’t want you to actually go in person- they say that’s a terrible method of getting employed. There just sit in the room, look up websites like ‘Indeed’ and ‘Seek’ and eventually you might get something… maybe… not really.

If I don’t apply for the 20 jobs I get a demerit point. We have 5 demerit points, if I: show up late, don’t show up at all, miss an appointment, come late to an appointment, don’t fill in my 20 job applications, fill in the 20 jobs late, and there’s more… Then I will get a demerit point, if I get five my Centrelink we’ll be suspended. But it’s renewed every 3 months.

I once had to scroll to page 20 before I found something I hadn’t already applied for. And all the jobs before that - all rejected.


I’ve done 20 applications a month for three years, it equals 720 applications.

Through those 720 applications, I’ve been on four interviews in three years.

720 applications, 4 interviews over 3 years.

There are no jobs.


I feel like I’ve been set up to fail.

Looking for jobs is almost a full time job, and I only get paid $295 a fortnight - I don’t live.

I don’t have control of my life. I’m not allowed to have a life outside of looking for jobs. The things that I do that I enjoy like editing videos and the doing the whole performing arts thing and trying to look into studying which they supposed to be helping me with - every time I bring it up I get shut down. It doesn’t matter to them, because it’s not a job. So I shouldn’t be doing that - I should only ever be looking for jobs and if I get a job I should only ever be working.

They make you feel guilty for having fun, and they pressure you to give up what makes you happy. It can be soul crushing.

When people say “just get a job” I want to know when the last time they applied for a job was, because if they think it’s that easy - they should quit their job and go find another one, and see how much shit they are put through, because if they were in the same situation we’re in, they’d would be angry at the people telling them to get a job.

It is not easy, anyone that says it’s easy obviously doesn’t know the situation, and anyone who doesn’t know the situation shouldn’t have an opinion.


A job would mean that I would be able to live.

A job would mean stability, being able to eat more than $2 curry (that’s all I can afford), actually being able to go out with my friends instead of saying sorry I’ve got a family thing on, when in reality I can’t afford it. They don’t know, out of all my friends only two for them know that I’m on Centrelink.

It would allow me to not have to worry about what I’m going to have for lunch that week, I wouldn’t have to worry about bus tickets, because I’d always be able to put money on my card. I wouldn’t have to worry about so many things like the price of text books, or a lap top that I could use.


There is hope, but I can’t rely on the government.

I figured I can’t rely on [job service provider] anymore, so I’m going to start studying. They’re supposed to help me start studying, which they are not doing at all - they are not taking me seriously when I say I want to do it. I’m trying to find a STAT test slot- which there are not many, as soon as I can get it, I can go do it- see if I can get into my course. There is hope, but I can’t rely on the government. They’re not doing enough for me so I have to take matters into my own hands.

Again, massive thanks to Emily. Keep tabs on Our News to see the rest of her story, and to see what we have to say about employment, unemployment, and what needs to happen moving forward.

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Read our story on why the narrative around youth unemployment needs to change