Earlier this year a scathing Senate report said the Jobactive scheme – the government’s employment service – had unleashed a “bureaucratic nightmare” on jobseekers. Welfare groups said out-of-work Australians were “suffering” under the Coalition’s $7.3bn program, which has its roots in the Howard government’s outsourcing of employment services in 1998. Since then the system has grown and evolved into a network of 1,700 providers across Australia, with companies competing for public money and the right to triage some 750,000 unemployed people on Newstart into a series of government schemes with questionable outcomes such as Work for the Dole, ParentsNext and the PaTh Program. Guardian Australia spoke to six people about their experiences dealing with Jobactive providers. The nightmare of Australia's welfare system: 'At the push of a button, my working life was erased' That's a nightmare.