Senate Rejects Youth Welfare Delay
10 September 2015 at 12:00 pm
The Senate has voted down the Government’s controversial Social Services Legislation Amendment on Youth Employment which attempted to make young people under 25 wait for income support for four weeks at a time.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the Federal Government could not get its attempt to make young people wait six months for income support through, and they have now failed at pushing through a watered down measure of one month.
“The Government already makes people wait one week, so this measure would have pushed the wait up to five weeks all up,” Siewert said.
“Instead of trying to polish up fundamentally bad policy, the Government should realise that dropping young people off income support is yet another barrier to employment.
“The recent inquiry on this Bill revealed that there was no international evidence that holding people off income support helped them gain employment.”
Siewert said instead this measure would have entrenched poverty and made life more difficult for Australian youth.
“If they are not lucky enough to move off payments and into a job quickly, the Government were condemning young people to a poverty trap,” she said.
“Four weeks was long enough for a young person to get into a thousand dollars’ worth of debt, as they try to pay their rent, feed themselves and incur the costs of job-seeking.
“This is just another example of the Government attempting to vilify job seekers with punitive approaches, but the community and the Senate have not been fooled.”
Shadow Minister for Families and Payments, Jenny Macklin said the Senate defeat is a huge win for young Australians and a huge win for fairness.
“If Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison had got their way, young jobseekers under 25 would have been left with nothing to live on for a month, pushing them into poverty and hardship,” Macklin said.
“Changes to the eligibility age for Newstart were also defeated. This would have seen young jobseekers between the ages of 22 and 24 pushed onto the lower Youth Allowance – a cut of around $48 a week or almost $2,500 a year.”
Welfare peak body ACOSS congratulated the Senators who voted down the Bill.
— ACOSS (@ACOSS) September 9, 2015
ACOSS and the State welfare peaks had previously called on the Senate to reject the Bill saying these changes which would only cause greater financial distress and an additional barrier for people to get back into paid work.
“With just one job available for every five people looking for paid work, the focus should be on addressing the lack of job opportunities, which is the key driver of rising unemployment, especially long term unemployment,” ACOSS said.
The Senate move however may not see the end of the Bill.
When Social Services Minister Scott Morrison was asked on the ABC’s AM Program if he would bring it back to the Parliament, he said “absolutely”.