Why is the Abbott government offering $10,000 to employ people who
are over 50? We grew up in a time of free education and high
employment so presumably these people already have some work experience
which puts them in front of young job applicants. Very few over 50s
would have young dependent children. Most would have accumulated some
possessions over the years. They are also a lot closer to the end of
their working life.
Whilst I can understand the despair of unemployment in middle-age,
that $10,000, rather than being an inducement paid to an employer, could
pay 40 Newstart recipients for a week.
The idea that young people are choosing unemployment because they are
lazy is ridiculous. This may be true for a very small minority but
there are already rules in place to deal with people who are abusing the
Policies such as work for the dole, ”earn or learn” and intensive
job-seeking ignore social disadvantage. It assumes a level playing
field, whereby all unemployed people can obtain work if they are
incentivised to do so.
Anglicare have released a study into what works to get disadvantaged job-seekers into employment.
The paper, prepared by the Australian Centre for Community Services
Research at Flinders University, says job-seekers’ individual
aspirations need to be identified, as well as their life circumstances.
It reports success with broader capacity-building around work,
including depression management, communication, fitness, relationships,
cooking, budgeting and computing skills.
People out of work for the long term need individual skills and
capability development to help them find and sustain a job, rather than
simply being matched to job vacancies.
“Beyond Supply and Demand is a research paper on our
network’s evidence of what works for people excluded from the workforce.
Its findings are that we are most effective when we recognise the
person – and their goals and ambitions – at the centre of exclusion and
acknowledge their circumstances, and the barriers and challenges they
face. It’s what we call a “life first” rather than “work first”
Anglicare services around the country tell us that a
one-size-fits-all-approach to getting people into the workforce simply
doesn’t work. Our most effective programs use a case management model,
which provide services based on individual needs, build strong links
with local employers and other support services, and provide
post-employment support, such as job coaching, mentoring, peer support,
personal development and career guidance.
Most Australians have hopes and preferences for their future, and
many have important attachments to their families and local communities.
People out of work are no different. They want a ‘normal’ life too; a
job and their own home. And it is our job to see they get the chance.
Beyond Supply and Demand addresses issues at the heart of the McClure
Welfare Review, how to shift the focus of working age welfare to
getting more people into work. There is a lot of comment in the media
suggesting people don’t try hard enough. Our evidence is that real jobs
and individual support makes the difference.”
I was on the management committee for a homeless youth refuge. We
provided medium term accommodation for 15 to 24 year olds. These kids
usually did not have family homes they could return to. Many of them
lacked basic life skills and that was a large part of our program with
them. We worked on a rewards based system. Residents were not
compelled to complete tasks but were rewarded when they did with things
like mobile phone credit or a dinner out with a person of their choice.
We helped them with applications for courses and jobs. We had
partnership agreements with employers and community housing groups and
would provide outreach support when our residents moved out. It was
very rare for us to have to ask someone to leave because they were not
pulling their weight in the house though we did have to refer a couple
who were violent.
What is to happen to these kids if benefits are withdrawn for six
months of the year? The refuge cannot run on the small government grant
it receives alone.
It is at the start of someone’s life when they need the most help and
support. It isn’t just work experience that young people lack, they
also lack life experience and it can be very daunting trying to enter
the adult workforce with no assistance. Continual rejection takes its
toll on the sturdiest of egos let alone on vulnerable youth from
How are they to apply for 40 jobs per month or travel around to
interviews if they have no income? Where do they live? What do they
eat? What do they wear? How do they get anywhere? How do they stay
Suggesting that they should head off to Tasmania for the fruit
picking season is so trite. Firstly you are asking them to move away
from any family, friend, or community support they may have. It also
does nothing for addressing meaningful employment that would see people
sustain a job.
I also note that our Prime Minister was not willing to move to where
his employment is, a decision that is costing us tens of millions of
dollars which could have supported many Newstart recipients for a long
Our youth are our future and abandoning them when they need our help
the most is cruelty. This government is fixated on punitive measures
for our most vulnerable while working hand over fist to exonerate
corporate malfeasance with amnesties for offshore tax cheats, changes to
financial protection laws, and “safe harbours” protecting corporate
directors from personal liability.
One must wonder at the priorities of these middle-aged white men who
have reaped the benefits of the baby boomers era and who are now
hell-bent on denying those same opportunities to our children.