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Coalition’s Job Commitment Bonus not the answer

UnitingCare Australia National Director Susan Helyar
UnitingCare Australia’s National Director, Susan Helyar, has responded to the Coalition’s Job Commitment Bonus election announcement, saying that “today’s announcement by the Coalition will do little to address long-term unemployment.”

“While we are encouraged that the Coalition is prepared to move on long-term unemployment I’m afraid they have missed the mark,” Ms Helyar said.

“If you were to examine this policy in any detail what you will find is an assumption that long-term unemployed people are choosing to remain on welfare.”

Long-term unemployment is a complex issue, often linked with homelessness, mental health problems and a lack of access to training and vocational skills.

As Ms Helyar explains, “Young people that are struggling to get a foot into the employment door don’t lack the will to work. On the contrary, they want to work, but the impact of a lifetime of exclusion means they lack the skills and supports to compete in the open employment market.

“We know from the work of the many agencies in the UnitingCare network that what helps people to find and keep a job is a sufficient investment in their life, early enough and for long enough, to overcome the barriers to getting and keeping a job.”

UnitingCare Australia concurs with the position taken today by ACOSS who maintain that the main cause of long term unemployment is not a lack of incentive but rather that long-term job seekers get few, if any, offers of work from employers.

According to ACOSS, "the most effective policies to reduce long-term unemployment are programs that improve job seekers’ skills and work capacity and encourage employers to hire them.”

“Even during the boom times before the GFC we saw a steady increase in unemployment.

The claim that long-term unemployed people are opting to wait for the right cash incentive to return to the workforce does therefore not reflect UnitingCare’s experience,” said Ms Helyar.

“Our experience tells us that real action on long-term unemployment is about investing money into services that have a track record in offering hope and opportunity to those who can’t find work” Ms Helyar concluded.

UnitingCare Australia accordingly calls on both the Coalition and the ALP to invest in programs and services that will offer real hope and opportunity to those who can’t find work.

The UnitingCare network provides services to over 2 million people each year in 1,300 sites in remote, regional and metropolitan communities.

The network employs 35,000 people and is supported by the work of 24,000 volunteers.

The Cost of Living Pressures is one of the four priorities outlined in UnitingCare Australia’s Key Social Policy Priorities for the 2010 Federal Election available at: www.unitingcare.org.au.

Photo : UnitingCare Australia National Director Susan Helyar