Plan Needed to Help Unemployed
19 October 2015 at 10:16 am
Australia needs a jobs plan to create sustainable employment for people who are falling through the cracks, according to the St Vincent de Paul Society.
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia released its national report, called 'Sick with worry' – Stories from the front-line of inequality.
The report was the result of over 70 interviews with the charity’s members conducted with the people it assists across Australia to find out their most pressing concerns.
It included 14 recommendations to government on issues of housing, health and job creation.
“The labour market must be changed: low-paying and insecure work must be replaced by stable employment with adequate incomes,” the report said.
“We need a Jobs Plan for Australia—a plan for how we will create sustainable employment for all who are missing out. For those who are unable to work for a time, income support must be adequate.”
The report called for the government to make income support adequate, and non-stigmatising, by increasing Newstart by at least $50 per week immediately and indexing all payments to wages instead of CPI, scrapping Compulsory Income Management, increasing rent assistance and putting parents on Parenting Payment.
“[What] almost everyone desires above all else is to be able to participate – but to do this the Government needs to create plans for housing, health and job creation and not walk away from its responsibility to provide people with a place to live, a place to work, a place to learn and a place to heal,” St Vincent de Paul CEO, John Falzon, said.
The report catalogued stories from people dealing with the negative effects of unemployment.
“These stories reflect the reality that – taking into consideration both unemployment and underemployment – there is only one job for every 12 jobseekers in Australia today, just one of many structural barriers to participation in paid employment,” it said.
“These particular issues are strongly gendered in nature: we know that it is much more likely to be women than men who leave work to care for children and that women face greater barriers when they attempt to re-enter the workforce.”
The report called on the government to support job seekers rather than punish those stuck in unemployment.
“[It] is imperative that we move away from punitive behavioural approaches that are not only deeply offensive to the dignity of people but are also comprehensively ineffective in addressing the structural problems in the housing market, the labour market and the way disability is constructed,” it said.
“Instead, firstly, we must address the structures that push people into disadvantage. Structural change is required to ensure that people no longer face severe exclusion when they experience a setback.
“Secondly, for those already living in poverty, the solution is clearly not reducing their income or housing options and making it harder for them to find work.
“Instead, we must harness the potential that is already there: increase the level of income support so that people are not living below the poverty line, increase funding to services, invest in a national jobs plan rather than blaming people for being on the fringes of the labour market (experiencing unemployment, underemployment or low-paid, insecure work), and create more opportunities for those without work to get a foot in the door instead of stigmatising them.”
Download the full report here.