The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) is calling for a national strategy on unemployment following the release of ABS figures showing a rise in unemployment.
ACOSS deputy CEO Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine said, ‘The rise in the unemployment rate from 6.1 to 6.3 per cent shows the need for a coordinated national strategy – one that includes a plan to tackle the lack of job opportunities, and invests in adequate supports in order to prepare people for those jobs that are, and will become, available.
‘With just one job available for every five people looking for paid work, it’s clear that the lack of job opportunities is the major driver of rising unemployment.
‘Although the ABS warns the higher rate should be treated with caution, there’s no doubt the trend is in the wrong direction, and creating hardship for a greater number of people around the country.
‘We’re particularly concerned about the continued rise in long-term unemployment, which is now 70 per cent of all people on unemployment payments. If this is not addressed now, high unemployment will become entrenched.
‘To reduce long-term unemployment the government must do two things. First, ensure there are jobs available, including in areas most affected by unemployment. Second, invest in work experience, training and other supports for people unemployed long-term so that they can take those jobs up.
‘Work for the dole and other punitive policies such as denying income support to young people for a month are not the answer. The problem here is not a lack of incentives; it’s a combination of lack of jobs and work experience, low skills, health problems and disabilities.
‘We urge the government to make this a priority.’
‘We must also invest in local coordination with employers and services working with people who are unemployed long-term, as well as improved services and transport, particularly in disadvantaged communities.
‘We call on the government to work with us to find ways to address growing long term unemployment which keeps people excluded.’