Aug 6, 2004

An ageing population demands real solutions


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 6 August 2004

Today’s announcement by the Minister for Employment Services, Fran Bailey, that Job Network providers will be provided with $800,000 to run “group counselling” session for mature age jobseekers confirms that she does not understand the social and economic challenges of an ageing population.

More than 2 years after Treasurer Costello’s much vaunted Intergenerational Report and its warnings about the economic and social consequences of an ageing population, all the Government have managed to come up with is “self-help” groups.

This is a joke and simply a re-announcement of an initiative contained in this year’s May Budget. It is also further evidence that the Howard Government has run out of ideas and has no agenda for addressing Australia’s social and economic challenges.

While Minister Bailey announces funding for short term gimmicks, the underlying challenges of an ageing population go unaddressed. Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reveal that 1.6 million Australians aged 45 to 64 years, are either unemployed or not in the labour force.

Labor understands the challenge before our country. Labor will assist workers who want to keep their skills relevant to the needs of employers, as well as help older jobseekers make a successful and speedy transition back into work.

Labor has already announced its $212 million Greater Security, More Opportunities for Mature Age policy which includes:

• Mature Age Career Centres to assist up to 63,000 older jobseekers find work;

• A Rapid Assistance Service to prevent workers falling into long term unemployment when they are displaced through large-scale or regional retrenchments;

• A Training Partnership Fund to help employers re-train their older workers and a $2,000 Learning Bonus for mature age job seekers taking up an apprenticeship;

• 125 Mature Age Workplace Trainers in key industries to develop and implement workplace training plans;

• 500 additional places each year in the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme for mature age people wanting to start their own business;

• Specialist Job Network providers for mature age jobseekers.

John Howard promised that mature age employment would be a priority of his third term. Having done nothing, the Government now says it’s a priority for their fourth term. By the time this Government gets around to taking action, today’s young unemployed will be entitled to mature age employment assistance.

The time for action is now and only Labor has a positive plan for the future.