Jobs Australia CEO Gives Grave Warning
29 September 2014 at 12:21 pm
The CEO of a major organisation for Not for Profit organisations who deliver employment services under existing Job Services Australia contracts has written an open letter to express his “gravest concerns” about reforms affecting unemployed people under the age of 30.
David Thompson said in an open letter to Senators that if enacted, proposed changes to welfare entitlements will mean that income support will be removed altogether for around 100,000 people under the age of 30 for six months.
“At the same time, changes to employment services contracts will require providers to impose and enforce participation obligations on this same group of people, despite the fact that they will not have any income.
“These measures are ill conceived,” the letter said.
“They will cause harm to individuals, harm to communities and will ultimately impose greater costs on the Federal Government. They represent a radical departure from previous policies, which have evolved over more than half a century, and it is impossible in such circumstances to predict all of the unintended adverse consequences that will flow from these changes.
“The changes seem to assume that everyone under 30 will have family members who are sufficiently resourced and are willing to fully support them. Of course many (and perhaps most) will not.
“Some may not have any family to turn to; some may come from poorer families that are unable to provide support; some may have families that are simply unwilling to support them. Rather than target support to those most in need, these measures remove support for those most in need."
Thompson said a range of adverse consequences are predictable, including:
Loss of housing: with no income, people will be unable to meet commitments such as mortgage payments or rent.
Poorer health: with no ability to pay for medical expenses, including any new co-payments that may be introduced.
Increased mental illness: with the stress of trying to survive without income likely to push some people into depression; others may already have mental health conditions which will only be exacerbated by the denial of income support.
Lower chances of employment: when people are pushed into poverty, they are pushed further away from the labour market. Immediate, day-to-day essentials become a greater priority than anything else – including preparing for and looking for work.
Furthermore, the letter said, the changes have implications for the delivery of employment services by Not for Profit and charitable organisations.
Employment providers will be required to:
Negotiate a ‘job plan’ with the job seeker, with minimum job search requirements (40 job applications per month) and other interventions, such as counselling or training, which become mandatory participation requirements once they are in the plan;
Meet every 4 weeks with the job seeker, to check on their compliance with their mutual obligation requirements; and
Impose sanctions on job seekers who fail to meet their obligations, the consequence of which will be to extend the period that the job seeker goes without access to income support.
“These reforms will effectively conscript mission driven, altruistic organisations into a regime that is designed to punish and humiliate job seekers,” he said.
“Employment service providers are not resourced to provide emergency relief, and in most cases will have to deny job seeker requests for financial aid. We have strong concerns that frontline employment services staff may be exposed to increased risk of abuse and confrontation.
“The reforms therefore pose very practical problems for our members. The changes affect operations at the front line of employment services, yet Government has no plans to assist providers in dealing with the impacts of the changes. For charities and Not for Profits, the new tasks that Government is requiring them to do may even conflict with the organisation’s constitutional mission.
“In short, the changes are unconscionable, unacceptable and unworkable. Jobs Australia urges, in the strongest possible terms, that the measures affecting job seekers aged under 30 years be opposed in the Senate,” Thomson said.