NFPs Warn of Youth Employment ‘Social Disaster’
17 July 2014 at 11:38 am
A coalition of community services and welfare organisations are warning of a ‘social disaster’ unless State and Federal Governments take action to keep young people in work, study and housing.
A forum in Melbourne today is expected to hear that the youth unemployment rate in parts of Victoria, for example, is about 30 per cent, that up to 10,000 young Victorians are disengaging from education and work every year, that youth homelessness is growing, and that the Federal changes will dramatically worsen an already an alarming situation.
“The recent Federal Budget is particularly harsh on younger Australians, hundreds of thousands of whom will be ineligible for government support for six months of every year. They will face significant risk of homelessness, poverty and entrenched disadvantage,” VCOSS CEO Emma King said.
“Tens of thousands of young Victorians will be left jobless, without assistance to find work and at increased risk of homelessness under Federal Government changes to the social support system, leaving the Victorian Government needing to fill the gap.
“At the same time that the Government is restricting access to unemployment payments, it is ending the Youth Connections program, which provides career counselling and social support to young people who are at risk of disengaging from school and work. This is despite it being extraordinarily successful.
“In 2011, 94 per cent of Youth Connections participants were still engaged in study or paid work six months after completing the program, compared to 22 per cent for programs like Work for the Dole. This shows the value of programs that help vulnerable young people become ‘job ready’ and able to participate in the employment opportunities that are available.
“Without a state-based replacement program that delivers targeted support to unemployed young people we will see unemployment and disengagement worsen dramatically,” King said.
“The forum comes just days after Victoria recorded its highest unemployment rate since 2002,” CEO of YACVic Georgie Ferrari said.
“Our youth unemployment rate is the highest in mainland Australia, is still climbing, and in parts of metropolitan Melbourne and the state is above 20 per cent.
“All this is happening before the impacts of the Federal Budget have even hit. We’re looking at an impending social crisis and the Federal and State Governments need to act now or risk consigning an entire generation of young people to lifelong poverty and destitution.”
“This budget condemns the young and vulnerable, taking away income support when there are few jobs to go to. Once a young person has been pushed into homelessness, it is a slippery slope from which some will never recover. Our job as a community is to ensure people don’t have to experience homelessness, and yet this budget leads many directly down that path,” Council to Homeless Persons CEO Jenny Smith said.
“The withdrawal of Federal Government supports will undoubtedly put further pressure on Victoria’s most vulnerable young people, their families and the services that support them,” Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare CEO Deb Tsorbaris said.
“For some of Victoria’s most vulnerable young people – the 1300 young people aged 15 to 17 years currently living in out of home care – their future prospects have taken a rapid downturn as a result of this Federal budget.
“It defies belief and economic sense that a modern, prosperous first world economy should turn its back on its future, its own young people. The Federal and State Governments must do better than this.
“When young people lose hope, lose confidence in their future, we – Victorian families and Victorian communities – all lose,” Tsorbaris said.