Major parties shouldn’t turn their back on young and long term unemployed

In response to the latest unemployment figures, the Australian Council of Social Service is calling on the major political parties not to turn their back on young and long term unemployed people in Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force data released today estimates 5,000 more people (707,000) unemployed in July 2013 than the previous month. This follows the Federal Government’s recent Economic Statement indicating there will be around 80,000 more unemployed by mid-2014, as unemployment rises from 5.6% in 12-13 to 6.25% in 13-14.

“Although the unemployment rate was steady we are extremely concerned about the steady rise of unemployment, which particularly impact young people, those already long term unemployed, and single parents returning to paid work,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“These groups have borne the brunt of the economic slowdown and we need to work together to minimise the economic and social damage caused by prolonged unemployment.

“A separate Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, also released today, confirms our own finding that 13% of the people are living below the poverty line in Australia. Without immediate action, this will only get worse.

“We believe youth and long term unemployment has already reached crisis proportions, yet those affected are not getting the help they need to live decently and secure jobs.

“So far, the Government has denied unemployed people a much needed increase in payments, and the Coalition announced yesterday a reduction in unemployment payments (removal of the $210 per year Allowance Bonus) to help fund a company income tax cut.

“Today’s Coalition announcement that it would provide $3,250 to Tasmanian businesses that hire long term unemployed jobseekers is welcome and we urge both major parties to extend wage subsidy schemes for long term employed people nationally beyond the 10,000 places currently available.

“Only the Greens, so far, propose both increases in unemployment payments and improved employment services. The major parties should also do so. A decent and effective response to rising unemployment should be bipartisan. It should relieve hardship immediately and improve people’s job prospects for the future.

“ACOSS has developed a set of proposals to help address this growing problem, which is included in our Election Statement to be released next week. It doesn’t include poorly conceived ideas such as boot camps for unemployed young people, nor time limits for long term unemployed young people in areas with strong labour markets, or reductions in unemployment payments.

“It does include a $50 increase in Allowances for adult and young unemployed single people, and sole parents on the lowest income support payments. We also advocate targeted investment in employment assistance for people unemployed long term, including career counselling for young unemployed people and sole parents returning to paid employment, and expanded wage subsidies for long term unemployed people to give them experience in a regular job.

“Above all, people who find themselves out of work deserve to have national leaders who understand their struggle and who use their position granted to them by the community to ensure they are not forgotten,” Dr Goldie said.

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155