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Young job seekers denied unemployment benefits could be forced to turn to crime or sex work to survive, employment services providers have warned.
New rules may send job seekers homeless
New requirements for unemployed people could leave many without any options and spark a rise in homelessness, warns ACOSS.
Under changes proposed by the federal government, job seekers aged under 30 will be ineligible for payments for six months after applying for benefits. But despite not receiving any money, job seekers will be required to apply for 40 jobs a month and meet other activity requirements for unemployment benefits such as attending monthly meetings with an employment services provider. If they fail to do so, their waiting period will be extended by four weeks.
David Thompson, the chief executive of Jobs Australia, which represents non-profit employment services providers, said he could not see how some young job seekers would be able to survive, let alone meet the additional costs of finding out about and applying for jobs.
''For those people who don't have access to other forms of support like from their family, I just don't understand how anyone can imagine it's going to be possible for them to do these things.
''Some of them presumably will do things like steal things, do burglaries, maybe sell drugs, and maybe sell themselves. I just don't think we should be contemplating anything like that in this country.''
Business groups welcomed the plan, but urged governments to introduce mandatory apprenticeships and traineeships as part of the tender process for major infrastructure projects such as the WestConnex motorway.
The chief executive of the NSW Business Chamber, Stephen Cartwright, said he thought there was no doubt some welfare recipients did not want to work.
"However, many welfare recipients do genuinely want to work and we need to develop a system that adequately supports this objective,'' he said.
Many more jobs in hospitality, retail and tourism could also be created ''if we had realistic wage rates for work performed on weekends, nights and public holidays''.
"I am not convinced that firing off 40 random job applications each month, regardless of the suitability of those jobs or the likelihood of success, is sound policy,'' Mr Cartwright said.
''It seems to me that this just creates more red tape for both the job seeker and the employers who receive these unsuitable job applications,'' he said.
The director of the Workplace Research Centre at the University of Sydney, John Buchanan, said 13 per cent of the workforce was either unemployed or underemployed and the work-for-the-dole program would not address the weak labour market.
Maree O'Halloran, director of the Welfare Rights Centre in NSW, said wage subsidies were more cost effective than the work-for-the-dole program.
Mr Thompson said the not-for-profit sector was unlikely to have the capacity to deliver the huge number of places the government would need to deliver the program. But he welcomed the government's recognition of the extra costs of operating in remote areas through extra loadings.
Officials told a Senate hearing last week that $230 million had been allocated to those affected by the changes to emergency relief such as help paying utility bills. The government expects 550,000 applications over four years.