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NFPs Launch Target 80K Jobs Campaign

6 June 2016 at 10:00 am
Wendy Williams
Not for Profits in South Australia have launched a new campaign to push the government to create an extra 80,000 jobs across the state.

Wendy Williams | 6 June 2016 at 10:00 am


NFPs Launch Target 80K Jobs Campaign
6 June 2016 at 10:00 am

Not for Profits in South Australia have launched a new campaign to push the government to create an extra 80,000 jobs across the state.

The Anti-Poverty Network SA, with support from Uniting Communities, hopes to use the Target 80K Jobs campaign to fight for genuine job creation and change the conversation on unemployment to move away from blaming those looking for work.

According to the campaign, the latest data reveals there are only 9,800 jobs vacancies in South Australia, but 89,600 job-seekers, leaving both the unemployed and the underemployed to compete.

Anti-Poverty Network SA coordinator Pas Forgione told Pro Bono Australia News it was unacceptable and it was time to be honest about the problem.

“At the moment much of the conversation around unemployment… is about blaming job seekers for not searching for work hard enough, for being lazy, for not having enough of a work ethic, that’s the wrong place to start a conversation on unemployment,” Forgione said.

“We have to start from the facts, the facts are it is a question of supply and demand, and the supply of jobs is very, very low right across the country, but particularly in my state, the number of people looking for jobs is very, very high, so the government kind of has to own up and say the issue is not the individuals, it is not the unemployed people themselves – most of whom are desperately searching for work, because they want to lift themselves out of poverty and lift themselves out of the really tiny income they are on while they are on Newstart – the issue is that South Australia has 9,800 job vacancies 89,600 job seekers.

“It is time for governments to accept responsibility for the jobs crisis, to end the scapegoating and distractions. And time for governments to concede that simply leaving job creation to the market, to the private sector, is not a fair or realistic strategy for creating enough jobs for all.

“Target 80K Jobs will fight for a new, more honest conversation on unemployment, and for genuine job creation. Instead of the tired, unfair game of blaming the unemployed for being out of work, labelling them as ‘lazy’, we want to shift the focus onto the real problem: the fact there are clearly not enough jobs to go around.”

The campaign is calling for the government to deliver a concrete strategy for maintaining old jobs and developing new jobs that offer people financial security and stability.

Forgione said the type of job was very important.

“If you are working casually you don’t know how many hours you have next week or next month or if you’ll even have a job next month, how do you plan a life, how do you take out a loan, how do you embark on long term financial and personal projects?” he said.

“So we not only need more jobs, but we also need the kind of jobs that give people a sense of stability, not the kind of jobs where they’ll have no idea what their income will look like in the future.”

Forgione said the problems faced by many unemployed people go far beyond the financial stress.

“People like to feel productive and like to feel useful and I think there are other benefits to the world of work that people miss out on, the sense of being part of a team, a sense of having a certain rhythm to your life, that’s not to say there is obviously plenty of quite unpleasant and unsafe jobs out there but I think unemployed people do also want to have the nonmaterial benefits of work,” he said.  

“The other thing to say is the lack of funds, it is not just about the financial stress, the constantly struggling to survive on a day-by-day or week-by-week basis, it is the isolation. Because when you are poor you feel cut off from the rest of the community, and small things that everyone else takes for granted you can’t do. So every time you catch the bus or train it’s a big hit even at a concession price, and the problem is when you feel cut off from the community or when you feel like every time you go out and spend time with your family or friends or to go to community events if you feel that’s going to be a massive hit to your hip pocket you’re going to think twice about doing that.

“So the isolation of being poor is in many ways the most critical thing of all, it is people who will likely feel excluded from the rest of society and that has a massive impact on their mental and physical health and particularly if its long term, and we know more and more unemployment is a long term thing, it is not a short bit of pain and then back into paid work, it is often months and months of struggle and frustration and hurt.”

Unemployed person Kat Lee said it was harder to reenter the workforce the longer you were out of work.

“As an unemployed person aged over 55, I have found it extremely difficult to find a job,” Lee said.

“Employers want recent work history, and the longer you are out of work, the harder it becomes to get work. Newstart makes it even harder, there is not enough to pay rent and bills, let alone buy new clothes or get a haircut, or see a dentist or doctor.

“Being older means barriers as it is, let alone trying to survive way below the poverty line.”

Forgione said the Target 80K Jobs campaign was a long term project that would go beyond the election and that the current talk of “jobs and growth” does little to address the problem at hand.

“It’s actually quite abstract, because I mean, ‘jobs and growth’ doesn’t actually tell us how many jobs, it doesn’t tell us where the jobs are going to be and it doesn’t even tell us what kind of jobs,” he said.

“So the whole ‘jobs and growth’ focus is a little vague and wishy washy. And it doesn’t put into context, not only do we need more jobs, but we need enough jobs to go around and if there aren’t enough jobs to go around then under no circumstances can we blame the unemployed for being unemployed. The simple logic is if there aren’t jobs going there then we stop attacking people who are desperately trying to look for work.

“So there is kind of two steps here, first admit the problem is there is nowhere near enough jobs, and then second – and I should say both parties have been letting down the unemployed in this – we actually need the government to commit money to this. You know obviously we need quality training as well, but the big issue is you can have all the training in the world and if the jobs aren’t out there at the end then it is basically forcing unemployed people to go through a cycle where they keep upskilling, and upskilling, but at the end of the day you still have 10 of them competing for the one job. So the conversation around job creation also involves a conversation about making sure we do tackle this properly and make sure the big end of town pays their fair share of tax so we can actually afford to spend the money on creating these extra jobs.

“I think everyone here is aware the picture is grim… I think people probably feel frustrated that in some ways there isn’t much a choice between the major parties. As long as the discussion around jobs is conducted at a pretty shallow level, and in terms of talking about a concrete plan, you don’t really get a sense of that. Everyone talks about jobs but it’s hard to pin down for either the Coalition or the Labor party what exactly they are going to do to create them.

“Whoever wins after 2 July, we are going to be constantly pressuring them to own up to the real problem and do something concrete about it, commit government money to create jobs, don’t expect the private sector to step in and create enough jobs to go around because that has never happened.

“We aren’t expecting any major results in the short term but what we do want to see is the conversation slowly start to change away from blaming the victims of unemployment and on to government… Whoever wins on 2 July we’re going to be knocking on their doors as soon as possible.”

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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