Prime Minister’s economic forum
UnitingCare Australia said the Prime Minister’s Economic Forum must focus on purpose as much as productivity as Australia contemplates the future for one of the strongest economies in the world.
National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said as decision makers planned for the future, productivity must be seen as a means to an end.
“Productivity itself is not a Holy Grail. We must use some of our productivity gains to ensure that every Australian has the means and opportunity for a decent life,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
“We stand at the dawn of the Asian Century, a time of unprecedented growth for our region.
“We are faced with enormous opportunities and challenges. But Australia’s patchwork economy has thrown up winners and losers, and our economy is undergoing historic structural transformation.
“The manner in which we navigate and negotiate this transformation will determine what kind of country we are.
“It will determine what kinds of communities we live in. Will we focus on productivity cast as gains up the high skill high value end of the economy only?
“Or will we ensure that those Australians in danger of being left out can gain low skill footholds in the labour market?
“Now is the time to invest the long-term, intensive supports and services needed to break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage that prevents many people from getting and keeping a job. Economic growth must be inclusive – inequality is as much an economic issue as a social or moral one.
“If we don’t invest over the long haul in Australians who are disadvantaged we will not realise the full range of productivity and social gains Australia requires to remain one of the world’s strongest economies.
“Economic health must translate to social and economic opportunity for all. Human capital is our biggest resource. We must ensure all Australians enjoy the benefits of the boom and that no one is left behind,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
The UnitingCare network provides social services to over 2 million people each year in 1,300 sites in remote, rural and metropolitan Australia. UnitingCare employs 35,000 staff and 24,000 volunteers.