A Latrobe Valley employment and learning agency has labelled the Federal Government’s changes to the dole a “disastrous way to send people down a spiral to poverty”.
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey announced changes that will see jobseekers under 30 years forced to wait up to six months before they can receive Newstart payments.
After six months, the jobseeker must participate in at least 25 hours per week of Work for the Dole activities and will be eligible to receive income support for six months.
Baw Baw Latrobe Local Learning and Employment Network chief executive Mick Murphy said the budget punished young people for being unemployed, but did nothing to increase their opportunities to obtain jobs.
“I cannot fathom… how the 25 to 30 year-old who has to now go through a qualification period of six months… could survive,” Mr Murphy said.
“My concern is knowing the circumstances of young people, some who are of that age and haven’t got experience in the workforce, it will force them down the slippery slope of poverty.”
Mr Murphy predicted rates of homelessness and poverty would increase as a result of these changes.
He said while he did agree youth should be earning or learning, he did not believe the changes would act as an incentive.
“I do not subscribe to the notion that young unemployed people do not want to have a job. They do at the same rate the rest of the community does.”
Other changes include 22 to 24 year-olds, currently on Newstart, will now be placed on Youth Allowance (Other), docking their income about $100 a fortnight.
Mr Murphy said further cost of living pressures such as an increased fuel tax and Medicare co-payments would make it harder to stay above the poverty line.
Assistance for older workers
Jobseekers aged over 50 will benefit from a wage subsidiary paid to employers who hire them.
From 1 July 2014, employers who hire an eligible mature-aged job seeker, on a full-time basis, will be paid a subsidy of $10,000 over two year.