Jul 29, 2004

Release of “Employment First” Policy Paper

RELEASE OF “EMPLOYMENT FIRST” POLICY PAPER

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 29 July 2004

Labor welcomes today’s release of the Chifley Research Centre latest research and policy paper, Employment First: Improving Australia’s Employment Services and Job Network.

This paper prepared by Professor Mark Considine (Director of Public Policy at University of Melbourne) and Professor of Social Policy Dan Finn (University of Portsmouth) examines Australia’s current approach to assisting the unemployed and proposes measures that would improve the effectiveness of the Job Network, particularly the assistance it provides young, long term and disadvantaged jobseekers.

The Considine/Finn paper will be a valuable contribution to the national debate. I will now consult with Job Network providers and the unemployed on its recommendations before releasing Labor’s employment services policy prior to the coming election. Already I have had extensive discussions with the sector, advocacy groups and academics and have examined Australia’s past labour market experiences and international best practice.

While it is welcome news that the headline unemployment rate has fallen, the true magnitude of joblessness in the Australian community remains largely hidden from public debate. For the record:

• The number of children living in families without a parent in paid work has increased by 8% since 1996 – joblessness affects a larger proportion of families with children in Australia than in most other industrial nations;

• Since 1999 the number of jobseekers on unemployment benefits for more than five years has jumped by a staggering 68% to 126,650;

• 1.1 million Australians of working age are outside the labour market and dependent on welfare benefits to live;

• In communities like the northern suburbs of Adelaide, the Illawarra and Queensland’s Wide Bay more than one in three teenagers are unemployed.

As a community we cannot ignore these worrying trends. These statistics clearly show that the benefits of economic growth are not being shared equally across our society and that the Government’s cornerstone labour market program, the Job Network, is failing to improve the employment prospect of many disadvantaged and marginalised jobseekers.

Labor is committed to building a new and cooperative partnership with the non-government sector in order to tackle and eliminate entrenched joblessness in our community.

A copy of the research paper can be obtained at: www.chifley.org.au