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Government remains committed to punishing young people, despite their efforts to compromise

The Australian Greens said today that the Government's attempt at a compromise on cruel budget measures affecting young job seekers is policy on the run that still will deny people access to essential income support for months at a time.

"However the Government tries to spin their attempts at a so-called compromise, they are still committed to a policy that deprives young people of crucial income support," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.

"The Greens do no support waiting periods that will deny people access to assistance. Denying people access to income support for one week, let alone four week is significant. I find it hard to believe the Government thinks that cutting down the waiting time is an acceptable compromise, given the hardship it will cause. One month on and one month off, if that is what they are proposing, is still denying people access to income support for six months every year.

"Living without income support will expose young people to poverty, hardship and homelessness, and it will seriously undermine their efforts to move into work or study. How are people supposed to pay their rent, pay for food and other essential costs?

"Minister Andrews continues to perpetuate the myth that young people do not want to work or train. It is nonsense for a cabinet minister to claim that younger Australians are not interested in getting a job and building a life for themselves. We know from figures released yesterday by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, that unemployment and underemployment for young people is significant. If the jobs or the hours aren't there, cutting people off income support will not make opportunities appear out of thin air.

"If the Minister was genuine about supporting people as they train, the proposed expansion of work for the dole would contain proper training and skills building opportunities for jobseekers, but as I learnt during Senate Estimates, people will only be taught the basic skills and OH&S they need to do their assigned task. How is this supposed to help a jobseeker build a career.

"Changing the waiting period from six months to one months does nothing to address the fact that young people still be forced off income support for six months of the year and still be asked to apply for the totally impractical figure of 40 jobs a week?

"If the Government does have a proposal, we will examine the details, but the Greens will not support measures that make things harder for people who are already struggling," Senator Siewert concluded.


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