Unemployment Not Due to Lack of Motivation
6 March 2015 at 3:23 pm
Victoria’s peak welfare body has hit back at comments made by the Abbott Government’s Minister for Employment where he called on unemployed Australians to “have a go” at finding a job.
Senator Eric Abetz wrote in his local newspaper, the Mercury, that while the Government was doing its bit to fight unemployment, some of the accountability fell on the Australian people.
“It is only right and fair that job seekers should be having a go and doing everything possible to maximise their chances of finding employment while they are being supported by their fellow Australians,” Senator Abetz said.
“This concept of mutual obligation is the heart of our approach to helping job seekers.
“Australia's support for the unemployed is based on the ‘fair go’ and the benefits of ‘having a go’.
“It is fair to the taxpayer and for the job seeker. The prime focus of our support for the unemployed is to help them find and keep a job, because, at the end of the day, the best form of welfare is a job.”
Senator Abetz listed scrapping the carbon tax as one of the ways the Government was working to improve the economy.
“Getting rid of the carbon tax helped reduce not only the cost of living, but also the cost of production,” he said.
But Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) CEO, Emma King, said it was not as simple as expecting the unemployed to work harder to find a job.
“Unemployment and youth unemployment are at the highest levels we have seen in decades,” King said.
“Currently in Australia there are around 780,000 people who are unemployed and there are approximately 150,000 job vacancies. In late 2014 Victoria’s unemployment rate hit 6.8 per cent, its highest level in over a decade.
“There are more than six unemployed people for every job vacancy.”
King said the people who are most likely to be hit hardest and longest by rising unemployment include young people, older people, Indigenous people, people with disability, single parents and people in regional and rural areas.
She said supporting these people back into work must be a focus for government.
“You cannot punish people out of poverty – yet rhetoric from some members of the Federal Government actively demonises people who are socially vulnerable,” she said.
“This culture of blame and victimisation serves only to divide our community and create a more unfair society.
“Rather than attack those who have little power to defend themselves, this Federal Government should focus on finding genuine and inclusive solutions to poverty and unemployment.”
King said social issues like high youth unemployment could only be solved by following the evidence of what works, “rather than conforming to ideological preference”.
“The Federal Government’s favoured Work for the dole program has been spectacularly unsuccessful in the past in getting people into work and keeping them there,” she said.
“In 2011 Work for dole had a 22 per cent success rate in keeping young people in work or study after six months. By contrast, the recently defunded Youth Connections program had an excellent success rate in keeping young people engaged in work.
“Youth Connections had excellent results: 92 per cent of young people who took part in the program were at school or engaged in learning or employment six months later and 81.5 per cent two years on.
“Government, business and the community sector can work together to develop a workforce participation plan that helps people facing disadvantage build their capacity to work, and create jobs they can fill, near the places in which they live.
“This should be the focus of government if it is serious about reducing youth unemployment.”