Breaking the cycle of disadvantage leads to real jobs
UnitingCare Australia has welcomed the Federal Government’s clarification of its plans for welfare and employment services reform.
National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said Minister Macklin’s commitment yesterday to get people from welfare into work through programs that show respect, encouragement and support is a welcome departure from the punitive public debate of the past few weeks.
“We know there are jobs and we know there are Australians looking for jobs. But there’s a mismatch. People without a job often don’t have the right skills, entry level jobs are rare and often short-term and part-time, employers are unwilling to take a gamble on someone with a poor work history,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
“A range of practical measures can reduce long term unemployment. Through the Job Services Australia Innovation Fund, the Federal Government has tested different ways of working with people who have been out of work for a long time. These projects have demonstrated that it is possible to increase the participation and productivity of people whose life experience and education have limited their capacity to work.
“A successful program in South Australia delivered by a UnitingCare service pulls together state and federal resources to combine job readiness training and skills development with interventions that address the barriers to work caused by insecure housing, overcrowding, family violence, disability, caring responsibilities, mental illness and other chronic health problems.
“These projects acknowledge that it takes time and money to break the cycle of disadvantage that comes from being disconnected from work or school. UnitingCare Australia wants to see measures in the upcoming Budget that extend the provision of multi-dimensional programs that really do make a difference to getting people into work.
“In addition to these holistic responses to long term unemployment, we are also keen to see more targeted training opportunities that link with real jobs and better incentives and support for the workplaces that employ people moving off welfare.
“Quinn Pawson, CEO of Prahan Mission in Victoria, and Chair of the UnitingCare Australia Employment Services network, provides Vocational Education and Training and Disability Employment services to highly disadvantaged people living with mental illness, other disabilities and homelessness. Services users in his programs say that rehabilitation and training without a job are just an apology.
“UnitingCare Australia wants to see skills and productivity initiatives in the Budget that bridge the gap between the skills of people who have been long term unemployed, who have a disability or have been in caring roles and the needs of employers looking for staff,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
The UnitingCare network provides social services to over 2 million people each year in remote, rural and metropolitan Australia. The network employs 35,000 staff and engages 24,000 volunteers.