Federal Budget Looking Grim For Young Jobseekers
23 March 2015 at 10:40 am
Australia’s peak welfare body has called on the Federal Opposition and crossbenchers to vote against Abbott Government proposals it says will deprive young people of any income support for six months of each year.
The Government has proposed Budget cuts that would make young people who are not “earning or learning” wait up to six months before they can receive financial support through the Newstart or Youth Allowance.
CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), Cassandra Goldie, said the tough new measures proposed by the Government would not help young people get into jobs.
“We are deeply alarmed that the Government appears intent on pursuing this disastrous measure to strip away supports and payments for people struggling to find paid work, especially young people,” Goldie said.
“We were shocked to read this plan in the budget papers. Denying people of any financial means to survive altogether is unprecedented and is one of the most extreme measures left for the Federal Government to do away with.
“We urge the Opposition, the Greens and the all crossbenches to stand their ground and vote against this damaging, unfair proposal, which has no merit and no evidence base. It would only serve to drive young people further into poverty.
Goldie said she was concerned that too much focus was being placed on other “flawed budget measures”, such as cutting indexation for pensions, and that young people could be forgotten.
“The move redefines youth to mean anyone up to 30 years of age, which implies that parents should be responsible for their children for a very long time. We know that this is simply not realistic in many cases,” she said.
“The result would be more young people going without food and shelter and turning to charities for help. The Government has conceded as much by increasing emergency relief funding in recognition of this bad policy. It makes no policy sense.
“With unemployment rising and youth unemployment over 20% in many parts of the country, what we need is a serious plan backed by both employers and the community sector to support and prepare young people who are desperately trying to break into the labour market.
“Instead of punishing young people for not being able to get jobs that simply aren’t there, the government needs to invest in effective programs, not cut them as it did the successful Youth Connections program.”
Goldie said with the closure of the Youth Connections program in December last year, a major vacuum had been created.
“There is now no national program to support young people at risk and facing significant barriers to participating in education, training or employment,” she said.
“The program had a 57 per cent success rate in the number of participants re-engaging with education, training or employment. A further 18 per cent made significant progress in addressing their barriers to engagement. It assisted over 74,000 young people with support services from the period 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2013.
“The Government needs to abandon its obsession with the failed work for the dole policy which has a poor record of effectiveness. Just 19 per cent of people forced into the demeaning program are able to get a job after three months.
“The most effective way to address youth and long term unemployment is to address skills and capabilities barriers to work.
“We urge Senators to not countenance any attempt by the government to reach a deal on this measure and dismiss it outright. It unnecessarily punishes young people who already face stringent requirements to look for work, and will only lead to greater hardship.”