The Australian Greens said today that a significant increase in the number of long term Newstart Allowance recipients must lead to a dramatic re-think of the Government's attitude to jobseekers and income support.
"These figures are yet more evidence of the challenges facing Australia's jobseekers. This increase is a clear sign that Newstart Allowance and employment services are failing to support people into secure work," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.
"Dumping people onto Newstart has been a hallmark of past Governments, a legacy dating back to John Howard's welfare to work reforms.
"Failures in the system and the inadequacy of Newstart itself undermine the genuine efforts people make to find work, and over a period of weeks or months they compound barriers to employment they face and put it further and further out of reach.
"This places more pressure on an employment system which is incapable of addressing the complex and multiple barriers to employment that many people face. As a result they fall further and further behind the job market.
"The Government must acknowledge the reality of this situation and start listening to the community sector to improve the support and services provided to jobseekers, rather than finding new ways to punish them, which is exactly what has happened in the Federal Budget.
"It seems we are no closer to this happening, with Minister Abetz making valueless contributions to the discussion by trying to blame other parties for this increase, while his Government takes unjustified measures to make things tougher for people on income support. The Government should abandon its approach that punishes and demonises people that only make things worse for jobseekers.
"We need to see a commitment from government to dramatically increase and improve services for job seekers, including more access to education and training, effective measures like the cancelled Wage Connect program, a focus on reducing age discrimination and doing more to build partnerships with employers," Senator Siewert concluded.