The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Work for the Dole


WFD activities provide work experience placements for job seekers that benefit local communities. They can only take place in not-for-profit organisations or local, state/territory and Australian Government organisations and agencies.

Employment services providers are required to ensure WFD activities:

  • provide work experience that will develop or enhance a job seeker's ability to work as part of a team (where relevant), take directions from a supervisor, work independently, communicate effectively and improve job seeker motivation and dependability
  • encourage local community involvement in activities that will generate outcomes to benefit the community
  • provide work-like experience opportunities for eligible job seekers that will assist them in re-engaging with their community and the workplace.
  • ensure host organisations meet all work health and safety requirements.

Employment services providers must also ensure job seekers are provided with relevant work health and safety training where this is required for an activity (note that these do not fall under the category of accredited vocational training for the purposes of reducing a job seeker's obligation in WFD).

Eligibility criteria

To be required to do WFD, job seekers must:

  • be 18 years or over and under the age of 60
  • be receiving the full rate income support
  • not be undertaking a suitable activity that already allows the job seeker to fully meet mutual obligation requirements
  • not be exempt from mutual obligation requirements, and
  • not have an illness, injury or disability that would be aggravated by the work conditions.

Failure to commence, complete or comply with the conditions of a WFD activity can result in compliance action under the targeted compliance framework (3.11.13) or the job seeker compliance framework (3.11.14) (for those participating in CDP).

Participating in WFD while undertaking paid work

Job seekers who obtain paid work for more than one fortnight and, as a result, receive a reduced rate of payment, may choose to exit WFD. If the duration of paid work is less than one fortnight, the job seeker should not be taken off the placement but cannot be subject to compliance action if they fail to participate.

Supplement payment

Eligible job seekers participating in WFD are paid an APWS ( of $20.80 per fortnight to assist them to meet the additional costs of participation in the activity. The supplement is taxable, but is exempt from the income test.

The supplement is not paid on a pro-rata basis. The full payment is made for the fortnights in which the activity begins and ends, regardless of the actual number of participation hours completed in those fortnights. If a job seeker leaves a project without good reason, the supplement will cease to be paid from the first payday after the job seeker ends participation on the activity.

WFD supplement during an employment income nil rate period

A job seeker who qualifies for the supplement can have it paid during an employment income nil rate period because they are deemed to be receiving their social security pension or benefit during that period for the purposes of the supplement (3.8.18).

Example: Talia is getting JSP and participating in a WFD activity at the local animal shelter. She starts a casual job and in the first fortnight her income is above the cut-off point, so JSP is no longer payable. She starts an employment income nil rate period. Talia decides to continue to participate in the WFD project as she enjoys working with animals and there are prospects of getting a permanent job at the shelter. She will be paid the WFD supplement during the employment income nil rate period, provided she continues to participate in the project and remains qualified for the employment income nil rate period.

Act reference: SSAct section 28 Approved programs of work for income support payment

SS(Admin)Act section 40J Employment pathway plans not to contain requirements to participate in an approved program of work, section 40F Employment pathway plan matters

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