This study examines the effect of a community-based work experience program - Work for the Dole (WfD) - on transitions out of unemployment in Australia. To evaluate the WfD program a quasi-experimental exact matching approach is applied. Justification for the matching approach is a 'natural experiment' - limits on WfD project funding - that it is argued constituted a source of random assignment to the program. Participation in the WfD program is found to be associated with a large and significant adverse effect on the likelihood of exiting unemployment payments. The main potential explanation is existence of a 'lock-in' effect whereby program participants reduce job search activity.