Warm welcome for dole’s return

MORWELL resident Mark Mattei, who has been on the hunt for work for more than six months, has some faith in the Federal Government’s revival of the ‘Work for the Dole’ scheme.

While concerned the scheme may decrease his ability to go out and look for work, especially when also undertaking study, he quoted the old saying: “It’s easier to get a job when you a have job”.

“If you can put on your resume that you are working for the dole, then it shows the employer that you are capable of working, you’ve got standard hours that you do, and you can schedule yourself,” Mr Mattei said.

The Abbot Government has flagged plans to send recipients of unemployment benefits into compulsory work – requiring people who receive Newstart allowance to participate in community work such as building walkways, maintaining parks and collecting rubbish.

Work Solutions Gippsland chief executive Donna Faulkner said the initiative would push people who may have otherwise thought work was not possible into a situation where they were learning new skills and experiencing the “world of work” with less risk.

“Clearly the welfare budget is increasing at a rate that Australia cannot sustain so we need to be in support of such initiatives,” Ms Faulkner.

She said it was difficult to determine whether the scheme would cut unemployment rates in the Latrobe Valley, but felt it would contribute to the confidence, connection and engagement of a jobseeker to look beyond their current circumstances and build on their capacity to contribute to the community and workforce.

“We need to be doing something different with the long-term unemployed. Chances of gaining employment decreases the longer one is out of work, so a scheme such as work for welfare may prove to be successful,” Ms Faulkner said.

“The previous scheme resulted in some great outcomes both for employers, jobseekers and various community organisations who were recipients of some of the great work.”

Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester could not say what the community work in Gippsland would entail under the scheme as the detail was still being finalised, but said he would work with the employment minister and various organisations to forward projects with a public benefit.

Mr Chester said the scheme should not be seen as a punishment, but an opportunity for people to find employment.

“The end target of many of these programs has to be securing full-time work and I think the work for the dole program can be consistent in that regard,” he said.