The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) said that while it welcomed the government’s added funding for the newly unemployed, more needs to be done for those jobless in the long term, in face of rising unemployment rates that have recently seen an extra 27,200 Australians out of work.
“With more people on the unemployment queue for longer periods, ACOSS is calling on the Government to strengthen its commitment to social inclusion by doing more for people who are out of work for 12 months and longer,” said ACOSS CEO Clare Martin.
In Australia, the level of support decreases once an individual has been unemployed for more than a year, which ACOSS says is the opposite situation to most other OECD countries. The organisation has proposed that employment service providers receive at least $750 per year to help a long term jobseeker, instead of the present amount of $500 per year.
ACOSS said that it is critical that the Government act now to ensure that an unemployment situation akin to that following the 1991 recession does not occur. “Two years after the 1991 recession, long term recipients of Newstart Allowance more than doubled in number from 180,000 to 430,000.”
The organisation has also recommended the introduction of a paid work experience program targeted at long term jobseekers, which would encompass six months of work experience in a regular job in the community and public sectors, paid at a training wage. According to ACOSS, the cost of 25,000 places would be approximately $2 million.
“If a person can participate in paid work experience in a regular job, it can help break the cycle of long term unemployment by keeping people in touch with the mainstream labour market, strengthening skills, confidence and work habits, and giving them access to employer references and contacts,” Martin said.
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