The Australian Greens said today that there is yet more evidence on how the Government's unjustifiable Earn or Learn regime will punish young Australians facing significant levels of underemployment.
"The Brotherhood of St Laurence report, ‘Barely Working: Young and Underemployed in Australia', released today, shows that there are now more than half a million young Australians who are unemployed or underemployed. This significant figure demonstrates just how flawed the Government's attitude to jobseekers is," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said.
"Under Earn of Learn, jobseekers lose income support for six months at a time and are subjected to work for the dole. This regime also extends to young people who are working part time and receiving a part payment of Newstart or Youth Allowance because they're not getting enough hours at work.
"If you've found a job but can't find enough hours, you're still going to lose crucial income support under the Government's approach.
"This is the reality facing hundreds of thousands of young Australians, as underemployment for young people reaches its highest level since 1978.
"The Government's endless rhetoric is supposed to be about getting people into work, and now we have the situation where they will be punishing young people who are facing chronic levels of unemployment and underemployment in the workforce.
"Earn or Learn is a blunt, unjustified approach being done in the name of "encouraging" people into work or study. In reality, the Government is just punishing those people who can't find work or can't get enough hours. This approach will make it harder for people to find work, not encourage them into work.
"Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey know full well that their policy will cause harm, rather than help jobseekers. That's why they've taken $229 million over four years from the existing funding available for discretionary grants, in order to fund the 550,000 applications for emergency relief the Government expects to result from their so called 'reforms'.
"The Government needs to develop better services to help young people move into the work force, help them connect with employers and get the skills or qualifications they need," Senator Siewert concluded.