ACOSS calls on Government to move on from harsh plan to deprive young unemployed people of income support

10 September 2015

ACOSS has welcomed the Australian Senate’s vote against the Federal Government’s planned four week wait period for young people to access income support, adding it’s time for the government to move on and focus on programs like the new Transition to Work scheme that support young people into paid work at a time of rising unemployment.

“Denying people income support is not the Australian way. We congratulate the Labor Party, Australian Greens, and Senators  Ricky Muir, Nick Xenophon, Jacqui Lambie, Dio Wang, and Glenn Lazarus who listened to widespread community concerns and joined to defeat the bill,” said Acting ACOSS CEO Peter Davidson.

“Community agencies have been warning the harsh measure would drive more young people into poverty and make it harder for them to find paid work. It’s no holiday living on the unemployment benefit of just $37 a day. People already face strict requirements, such as having to search for 10 jobs a fortnight, work with their employment service provider and have their money docked if they don’t attend an interview.

“The best way to reduce youth unemployment is to grow the economy and give young people the help they need to find their way in a tough jobs market. The path to employment isn’t as clear as it once was, with one vacancy for every five unemployed people and a lack of fulltime low skilled jobs. Even university graduates are finding it hard going.

“Our message to young people is ‘’don’t give up’’ – the only way to find a job is to keep searching.  Our message to the Government is that young people need more help. In response to high youth unemployment, most wealthy nations are investing in career counselling, training, work experience, and local networks that connect schools and job services with employers. Other than Australia, no country – including New Zealand – has proposed a one to six month wait for benefits.

“The Government’s new Transition to Work program is a promising move in this direction, helping fill the gap left by the previous effective Youth Connections program that was cut in the 2014 Budget. This is where the Government should direct its efforts, rather than raking over the embers of last year’s Budget.

“We call on the Government to improve the unemployment payment, not to deny it to more people. As the National Reform Summit demonstrated, business, unions and the community sector are willing to work with government in developing the right long term policies to reduce structural unemployment and lift workforce participation.”

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155