• Welcome focus on Vocational Education and Training, but need more targeted support for disadvantaged young people facing unemployment.
  • Calls for women to be considered by working groups engaged in the JobMaker agenda.
  • Mission Australia calls for Commonwealth Government’s COVID-19 economic recovery to address rising homelessness with critical investment in new social and affordable homes.
  • Calls for ongoing adequacy of income support.

Disadvantaged young people and Vocational Education and Training

Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “We welcome a renewed focus on the vocational education and training system.

“We know from our research, that young people who participate in vocational education and training achieve and  better long term employment outcomes, when compared to those young people who don’t.

“We call for the Federal Government’s JobMaker plan to ensure they don’t create and leave behind a generation of underemployed young people. As acknowledged by the Prime Minister, there remain too many obstacles, including inconsistency of subsidies and lack of visibility of employment outcomes, that prevent young people – particularly those experiencing disadvantage and poverty –  accessing vocational training opportunities to complete their journey towards employment.

“We know that the scarring effect that occurs when anyone is out of work for a long period of time can impact their mental health and greatly reduces the likelihood of future employment.

“We believe that all young people, including young people experiencing disadvantage and poverty, should have access to opportunities to reach their full potential and to also be able to access to the services, supports, education and training that they require on their journey to employment.

“As part of the Government’s JobMaker plan, we need to see more investment in evidence-based programs, supports and services, particularly in regions of high need to ensure that no young person gets left behind and is able to progress to decent employment unhindered by their financial situation.

“There must also be VET access options for early school leavers who aren’t able to engage with mainstream schooling, and assurance of the simplification of scholarship information as well as other financial supports for disadvantaged young people.”

Women

Mission Australia CEO, James Toomey said: “During this public health crisis, we have seen an increase in particular in women’s caring responsibilities while handling COVID-19, whether that be through the majority female healthcare and community service workforce on the frontline, through the education system or looking after family while families have been isolated at home. On top of these extra stressors, the knock on effects of job losses has had a specific disproportionate impact on women, particularly those who needed to dip into already inadequate superannuation to make ends meet. 

“As the Government engages with the working groups as part of the JobMaker agenda, it is vital that the needs and disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on women is closely considered while improving policies and creating more jobs on the path to recovery.”

Homelessness and housing

In response to The Hon Scott Morrison MP Prime Minister of Australia’s address to the National Press Club today, Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said the Commonwealth Government’s plans for post-pandemic economic recovery currently ignores the plight of more than 116,000 people who are homeless and the thousands of people in rental stress.

“In this sprint to COVID-19 economic recovery, it is crucial that the Federal Government ensures that no one is left behind, including people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. COVID-19 has further exposed the gaps in our housing system, as well as the stressors and pressures faced by the more than 116,000 people in Australia who are homeless.

“If we have learned anything from this public health crisis, it’s clear that safe, affordable and appropriate housing is a vital foundation of health and wellbeing for everyone. Housing is essential infrastructure from which Australians can access education, employment and healthcare and connect with their communities.

“While Australia strides toward economic recovery, we also anticipate an influx of people facing homelessness. The Government risks taking two steps back if there remains little to no investment in new social and affordable homes.

“As we recover, our country must build a new normal to ensure that every person in Australia has a safe place to call home. The Federal Government now stands at the precipice of opportunity to come out of this public health crisis with a stronger housing system alongside a strengthened economy.

“Now is the time to create a national plan to end homelessness and for long-term investment to address the critical shortage of social and affordable homes, as well as to increase rent assistance for people on the lowest incomes. This will not only help to end homelessness in Australia, but will also create much needed jobs in the construction industry across our country.   

 “Now more than ever, we need a commitment to at least 500,000 new social and affordable homes by 2030.”

Adequacy of income supports

Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “The doubling of the JobSeeker payment has made a big difference in the lives of many people we serve, with some finally able to afford a safe home or to pay for transport that allows them to engage with training or employment. These income support measures must not be temporary.

“As unemployment rises, we must continue to ensure that people have enough to cover the basics which will allow them to focus on finding employment, rather than facing the daily struggle of trying to keep a roof over their head, put food on the table and pay the bills.

 “We should never drop back to the pre-COVID-19 rates of income support which didn’t even come close to covering the cost of basic essentials. Income support exists to ensure people are adequately supported to get through tough times and into suitable employment.

“Now is a crucial time for our Government to prioritise ensuring the ongoing adequacy of these payments, as well as investing in social and affordable housing so that everyone is included in the recovery ahead.”

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