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Employment Environment ‘Hostile‘ for Welfare Recipients - Report

27 August 2012 at 11:15 am
Staff Reporter
The chances of finding employment are “seriously limited” for those currently living on welfare, according to major Church providers of social services in Australia.

Staff Reporter | 27 August 2012 at 11:15 am


Employment Environment ‘Hostile‘ for Welfare Recipients - Report
27 August 2012 at 11:15 am

The chances of finding employment are “seriously limited” for those currently living on welfare, according to major Church providers of social services in Australia.

A report from The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM), commissioned by Anglicare Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia, The Salvation Army and UnitingCare Australia, shows that people receiving Newstart or Youth Allowance face levels of financial hardships that make finding employment opportunities difficult.

National Director of UnitingCare Australia, Lin Hatfield Dodds, said this group of people is looking for work in an environment that is inaccessible and even hostile.

“Work is increasingly part-time and casual and employers are looking for skills and experience these people don’t have. Child care and transport are expensive or unavailable,” she said.

Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Australia Paul O’Callaghan said there is an urgent need for an increase in the basic allowance and for realistic indexation.

“Far from providing an incentive to find work, the current inadequate level of the payment prevents many people from seeking work and is adding to long-term and intergenerational disadvantage,” he said.

Major Brad Halse from The Salvation Army said in an environment of close to full employment, most of the people in Australia who don’t have jobs are living with long-term and complex barriers to employment.

“There is a need for intensive support at a very basic level for long periods of time,” Halse said.

“The best outcome for unemployed people is to get meaningful, long-term work. We are optimistic that with the right support, this is an achievable goal. But it will take commitment from governments, business and communities and from individuals,” Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said.

Going Without: Financial Hardship in Australia examines the risk of poverty, the persistence of poverty, and deprivation and financial stress endured by people on unemployment payments.

Key Findings

  • Households where the unemployment benefit is the main source of income are more than five times as likely to be in poverty
  • A very high proportion (46.8 per cent) of unemployed households remain in poverty for at least two years compared to the national average of 8 per cent
  • After housing costs unemployed people have disposable incomes of $242 a week, about 25 per cent of the national average
  • Unemployed households have $22 a day after shelter, electricity, food and health are accounted for (this is half of other government beneficiary households and 12 per cent of that for wage and salaried households
  • Rates of financial stress and deprivation are much higher amongst unemployed households
  • Almost 40 per cent of these households experience at least three forms of financially driven deprivation (out of six) compared to the all households average of 8.7 per cent
  • Over 15 per cent of unemployed households went without meals compared to 3.2 per cent of all households
  • Almost 14 per cent of unemployed households could not afford to heat their homes compared to 1.9 per cent for all households
  • Unemployment benefit in Australia is particularly low, especially for singles
  • Unemployment benefits are indexed to ABS Consumer Price Index which is consistently lower than average household incomes growth
  • This discrepancy ensures that allowee households continue to slide further behind the rest of the community in terms of economic resources and opportunities


The major Church providers make the following recommendations in response to the report findings:

  • Increase in unemployment benefits for singles by $50 a week
  • Address anomalies in the tax transfer system, as advocated in the Henry Tax Review
  • Establish an independent commission to set adequacy benchmarks
  • Lock in support for jobseekers in deeply disadvantaged areas or who face many barriers to getting and keeping a job
  • Improve services for long-term unemployed people
  • Expand wage and subsidy schemes
  • Make VET work for the most disadvantaged job seekers
  • Monitor the impact of changes in the tax-free threshold and the taper rate for income support to remove disincentives

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  • Christine says:

    I dare say a large number of these people are single mothers. The government needs to change the paradigm for single mothers- they are not “dole bludgers”. Most want to go to work but dont have support – as pointed out in this report- child care is not available.
    Holiday programs dont cut it.
    By far my biggest gripe is CSA- they dont do enough to chase up dead beat dads who dont pay or escape by doing dodgy things.
    Government should look at these dads who are in fact bleeding the system of support by not supporting their children.
    CSA needs more power to actually do something.
    Our children, our people of tomorrow are way too important to let slide into poverty because their dads were not made to be responsible.

    • Anonymous says:

      Christine you are part of the problem not a solution. Your comments reek of female racism against the male population. You GUESS a large number of unemployed people are single mothers when the real numbers prove otherwise and are so close to equal its not funny. If you read the report above it clearly states that ALL unemployed people are finding it dificult to enter the workforce. Equality between the sexes has been a fundermental of Government planning and focus for manny years and its time the female population started to pull their own weight. Having a child gives no female special rights to more than equal share or at the very least thats where the nations position is proceeding too. CSA in the near future is to be abolished because BOTH parents are responsible for the children and the notion that the male is only a milking cow is over. However I take note of the terminology you used at the end of your banter, you refer to the children of tomorrow as, “OUR” children, which is rare talk from a female who so often refers to children as, they are MY children AND I have CUSTODY of them.
      So, bring on the future as fast as we can where ALL people can live in communities where females and males are treated as equals and employment opportunities are truly offered as, DISCRIMINATION FREE!

  • Anonymous says:

    Maybe if the private and public sector provided enough ‘real’ jobs for everyone (men and women) then we wouldn’t be having this debate over the inadequacy of centrelink payments. These payments are definately too low for the current economic environment. Maybe again, if the Government hadn’t been so soft on the Banking and Real Estate industry (allowing them to increase interest rates and rents exponentially) again, we probably wouldn’t of needed to have a conversation on the inadequacy of Newstart and Youth Allowance payments.

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