Sep 12, 2003

Government abandons jobseekers who cannot read or write

GOVERNMENT ABANDONS JOBSEEKERS WHO CANNOT READ OR WRITE

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 12 September 2003

Reports in today’s media concerning the future of the Language Literacy and Numeracy Program (LLNP) is further evidence that the Howard Government is more interested in cutting services than adequately funding those programs that improve the employment prospects of disadvantaged jobseekers.

LLNP is administered by the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) and educates disadvantaged jobseekers in the English language as well as providing them with basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Inadequate funding and greater than expected demand for LLNP has meant a reduction in the amount of training provided and the introduction of waiting periods. This action has been taken by DEST simply to bring the program back within budget.

The mismanagement of this program by Education Minister Brendan Nelson, has not only put at risk the ongoing financial viability of those not-for-profits organisations delivering LLNP services, but is also a further blow to disadvantaged jobseekers who desperately want to improve their chances of getting a job.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics half of those out of work for more than 2 years cannot read or write.

Furthermore, due in large part to lack of English proficiency, unemployment rates amongst jobseekers from a non-English speaking background is significantly greater than the national rate – 7.6% compared to a national rate of 5.8%.

On the one hand the Howard 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 mismanaged roll-out of LLNP comes on top of the Government’s $2.1 billion bailout out of its ailing Job Network. This extraordinary bailout became necessary after Job Network providers warned that they were on the verge of financial ruin with many threatening to close their doors and sack staff within days.

The ultimate losers from these debacles have been and will continue to be the unemployed.