Commonwealth Employment Service

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The Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) was an Australian Government employment agency that was established in 1946 with the introduction of the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945. It continued to exist under the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations according to the provisions of the Commonwealth Employment Service Act 1978. In 1987 the department became Department of Education, Employment and Training (DEET).


The department the CES operated within underwent changes in both direction and name in the 1990s.

With the election of the Liberal government of John Howard in 1996, the agency was on short time. Liberal Government policy stated that all Employment services were to be opened up to privatisation. In 1996 the department became known as the Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DEETYA).

Within two years, all federal government interests and claims to run employment services directly had been relinquished by April 1998.

External or Contracted Case Management (CCM) "Job Agencies" tendered for job/employment services. These services were run by organisations, community groups and for the first time "mainstream" privately run agencies.

The Department created the entity "Employment Assistance Australia" EAA. To counter the perception that it no longer wanted to handle employment services for long term unemployed clients, EAA officers worked in existing CES Offices in the majority of cases.

The focus moved to "Intensive Assistance" for all long term unemployed clients, with a view to assisting those clients with disadvantages to gaining and sustaining employment.

In late 1996, DEETYA implemented the Job Search Kiosks within CES offices, still in use within Centrelink offices across Australia. The initial idea was to also place these kiosks in shopping centres and libraries to facilitate greater access to jobs for the community. the plan was never implemented.

Staff were advised in March 1997 that as of 30 March 1998 the Department would cease to operate, and all employment service functions were to be split between Department of Social Security and the soon-to-be-named Job Network.[citation needed]

During 1998, part of the Commonwealth Employment Service functions transferred to a new government entity, Employment National, a new government provider of employment services amongst a competitive network of community, government and commercial agencies known as the Job Network.[1] The remaining functions transferred to Centrelink.


  1. ^ Kirk, Alexandra: Government closes CES service, PM (ABC Radio), 30 June 2003.