Long term unemployed need skills, not further discrimination

Long term unemployed need skills, not further discrimination

UnitingCare Australia says better services and supports will ensure long-term unemployed Australians find meaningful, long-term employment.

In a speech delivered today at the Queensland Chamber of Commerce, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is promoting measures he says will encourage the long-term unemployed into work.

The Opposition Leader has called for mandatory work for the dole for people under 50 receiving unemployment benefits for six months or more; welfare quarantining for all long-term unemployed people; changes to the disability pension which would differentiate between people with permanent disabilities and those who can readily be treated; and suspending the payment of unemployment benefits in places where there are unfilled, unskilled jobs.

But UnitingCare Australia’s National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds, said Mr Abbott’s proposed policies are a revamp of old ideas that did not make a dent in the number of long term unemployed people in the last ten years.

“Matching people to jobs is more complex than the simple arithmetic suggested in today’s speech,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

“More real training and education are needed to skill people for long-term job opportunities.

“And post placement support is essential, to keep long-term unemployed people in work.

“In our experience most people want to work. They want to participate in their community and contribute to their own well being and to the well being of their families, but often they are not ready for a job.

“Once they’ve been offered a job, they need support to keep that job.

“Nobody doubts the best option for all Australians is to participate in long-term, meaningful work to the best of their ability. But for some people this is not possible before intensive, specialised training and supports are put in place.

“People who are homeless, who are coping with the reality of mental health problems, who are living with drug, alcohol and other addictions, or who have recently been released from prison can and want to contribute to their community and indeed to the economy.

“The Opposition’s ideas reveal a limited understanding of the plight of some of the country’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

UnitingCare Australia is the Uniting Church’s national body supporting community services and advocacy for children, young people, families, Indigenous Australians, people with disabilities, people from culturally diverse backgrounds and older Australians in urban, rural and remote communities.

The UnitingCare network provides social services to over a million people each year in 1,300 sites in remote, regional and metropolitan Australia. The network employs 35,000 staff who are supported by 24,000 volunteers.



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