More Needed to Support Disadvantaged into Workforce
30 March 2012 at 11:17 am
Minister for Employment Participation Kate Ellis (left) speaking at the ACOSS conference in Sydney. Photo: Jackie Hanafie
The second day of the ACOSS conference in Sydney has kicked off with a discussion on how best to support the disadvantaged in gaining access to the labour market.
The Minister for Employment Participation Kate Ellis opened the debate by acknowledging that the Federal Government needs to do more to achieving greater participation by the unemployed and employers.
“People are still falling through the cracks,” Ellis said. “We need to do better.”
Ellis admitted that there was “no silver bullet approach” to achieving greater participation by the unemployed and employers and that the list of the very long-term unemployed was extensive.
“People with a disability, Indigenous Australians, the homeless, the mentally ill, too many young people," Ellis said.
“They are not just dealing with one challenge, they’re dealing with multiple disadvantages.”
Off the back of Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan’s announcement yesterday that many of the government’s programs would be cut in the May federal budget, Ellis confirmed that the government had committed $9.5 billion to employment services over the next four years.
“We don’t have an abundance of funds under the new budget measures,” Ellis said.
“But through new investments, new programs and new policies – some of which you won’t agree with – we are making real progress.”
Ellis acknowledged the importance of providing quality assistance to disabled job seekers and reiterated that the government’s decision to put disability employment services to tender was the “right decision”.
“Disabled job seekers, more than anyone, deserve to have the absolute highest quality employment services that are available to them.”
Ellis said the decision to put disability employment services to tender was one that “hasn’t been a popular decision in all quarters”.
“It is simply not good enough that average providers in a never contested market, where we don’t know whether they represent the best service for people with a disability, continue to go on, unchallenged,” Ellis said.
Shadow Minister for Employment Participation Sussan Ley at the ACOSS conference in Sydney. Photo: Jackie Hanafie
Meanwhile, the shadow minister for employment participation Sussan Ley argued that compliance costs relating to the government’s measures are too high.
“When I hear that the case workers that should be sitting down and talking to the people who need help are spending 60 per cent of their time on compliance then I know that the system is wrong,” Ley said.
Ley said that the outcome of this was that people who are very good at compliance are recruited but have no experience in dealing with the issues that accompany the job.
Ellis said that the government’s philosophy on getting unemployed Australians back into work was threefold.
“Firstly we need more support for the most disadvantaged individuals. That’s where our resources should be concentrated.
“Secondly we need to be empowering local communities that are doing it tough by recognising that not everybody is in the same basket.
“And thirdly we need to be working with employers to make a real difference,” Ellis said.