Jan 15, 2004

13,800 more jobseekers sink into long-term unemployment


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 15 January 2004

Data released today by the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) is further evidence that the Job Network is failing to stop a growth in long-term unemployment.

The data shows that 372,924 people have been on the dole for more than a year, up by 13,800 on the previous month.

The number of people on the dole for more than 12 months is higher today than it was when the Howard Government was first elected to office in March 1996 (350,000). Despite a decade of economic growth, it is obvious that under this Government the long-term unemployed have been abandoned to the ravages of the marketplace.

This rise in long-term unemployment should come as no surprise. Under this Government funding for labour market programs has been slashed by 50%, or $1 billion a year.

On the one hand the Government complains about a growing culture of welfare dependency, while on the other it savages the very programs that would assist the unemployed off welfare and return them to the economic and social life of our community.

The Government’s ailing Job Network is simply not working for the long-term unemployed.

While the current Government believes that forcing jobseekers to attend numerous meetings will lead to future employment opportunities, Labor recognises that without relevant skills and recent experience in a mainstream workplace, the long-term unemployed will continue to find it difficult convincing employers to take them on. Job Network providers need additional resources in order to provide genuine assistance to the long-term unemployed such as training, retraining and wage subsidies.

Instead of preaching to the unemployed, the Government should be investing more in the assistance that will help them move permanently from welfare into work.