YNOT Submission to McLure Review of the Welfare Report

Date: Mon, 25/08/2014

The Youth Network of Tasmania (YNOT) welcomes this opportunity to provide feedback on the Interim Report to the Reference Group on Welfare Reform ‘A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes.’ The proposed Welfare Reform is highly relevant to young people in Tasmania and to the Tasmanian Youth Sector, as the lives of many people aged 12-25 years will be affected by the proposed changes.

Young people bring needed skills and a unique perspective to many workplaces and the vast majority of young people want to participate in stable employment and contribute to their communities. Despite this, many young people face considerable barriers to gaining employment. Research has shown that regardless of young peoples’ experience, capacity, ethnicity, location, aspirations, and needs, they are generally at a disadvantage in the labour market (Greenwood 1996).

Young people are considered to be amongst the most disadvantaged cohorts in our community, many of whom face multiple barriers preventing them from fully participating in the community. Australia's youth unemployment rate has grown to 12.5% since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008; causing 257,000 young Australians aged 15 to 24 to become unemployed. In February 2014, 425,617 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients were looking for work, but at the same time there were only 140,800 vacancies, which potentially means there were three job applicants for each vacancy (Gilbie 2014). The average length of time it takes to become employed has also increased from 16 weeks in 2008 to 29 weeks in 2014 (Hernandez 2014). The Brotherhood of St Laurence notes that the globalised economy has made it harder for young people without work experience and university degrees to find employment (Hernandez 2014).

Among Australian states, Tasmania ranks at the bottom among Australian states on virtually every measure of economic, social and cultural performance. Tasmania has the highest unemployment rate and the lowest levels of income, education and literacy. Tasmania also has the highest rates of chronic disease, smoking, obesity, teenage pregnancy, petty crime and domestic violence, and the poorest longevity (West 2013). Tasmania also has the oldest population in the country and the population is ageing faster than any other state or territory, resulting in less employment opportunities for young people. Therefore compared to the other states, Tasmanian youth are a particularly disadvantaged cohort. Tasmania’s youth unemployment rate ranges from 18.2% to 21%, the highest of any region in Australia.

YNOT believes Australia needs a new approach to assisting young people who are unemployed; by building their qualifications, skills and experience, young people have a better chance of securing a job in the modern economy. Support services are essential in assisting young people to navigate their way through the employment market and also to maintain employment, which will reduce the likelihood of young people experiencing long term disadvantage. YNOT supports the guiding principles within the Welfare Review, for example the proposal to develop a system that can provide adequate support to those who genuinely need it, but YNOT believes the process of encouraging economic participation needs to be supportive to ensure positive and sustainable outcomes can be achieved. YNOT strongly believes that any changes to the welfare system should be introduced to benefit the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community. It is through genuine support that young people can navigate the employment market to find suitable employment and a future of self-reliance.

The approach needed to support young vulnerable jobseekers is a targeted and supportive service, which recognises the diversity amongst young people, which will be discussed throughout this submission.

YNOT is looking forward to further opportunities to participate in consultations relating to the Welfare Reform ‘A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes.’