A Queensland family is searching for answers after 18-year-old Josh Park-Fing was killed while working for the dole. Braving a tough regional jobs market, Josh was embarking on what should have been the start of his adult working life when he took a rubbish-collecting placement at the Toowoomba Showgrounds. But the Meringandan teen’s life was cruelly cut short when he fell from a trailer and suffered a fatal head injury on April 19 (…) Perversely, Josh’s family has been forced to set up an online fundraising page to pay for his funeral, due to restrictions in the Work For The Dole scheme’s insurance coverage. Compensation payments for Work For The Dole deaths are capped at $250,000, while workers killed in paid employment attract payouts of up to $750,000 including $15,000 for funeral costs. “Their injuries and lives are not considered to be worth as much as those involved in paid employment,” said Unemployed Workers’ Union president Owen Bennett, who is campaigning for the scheme to be scrapped amid claims of lax safety standards and pressure for job agencies to “churn and burn” job seekers (…) Despite being compelled to work 30 hours a week for the dole, young job seekers are not entitled to Work Cover as they as classified as volunteers, rather than employees. The Unemployed Workers’ Union wants the system to be scrapped, calling it “a ticking time bomb”. “Job agencies have a financial incentive to push as many people as possible to Work For The Dole sites,” Mr Bennett said. He said calls to the union’s national hotline painted a picture of widespread abuses by private job agencies contracted to roll out the Work for the Dole scheme. “One supervisor called us and said he was very concerned about how [safety checks] are rushed through,” he said. “It’s a national problem … We’ve heard many stories where people have come forward with safety concerns, and the supervisor says ‘well if you don’t do it, we’ll call up and have your payments cut off’.” Another caller reported working on a site where he was not allowed to take toilet breaks, he said.
Dana McCauley in Family mourns ‘larrikin’ Josh Park-Fing, killed in a tragic accident while working for the dole (news.com.au)