Submission to the Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Youth Employment) Bill 2015

Executive Summary 

The Society is opposed to the three significant reforms that the Bill proposes.  Specifically, we are concerned about the following elements:  making it harder for individuals to qualify for the ‘financial hardship’ exception; increasing the minimum eligible age for Newstart payments from 22 to 25; and introducing a new, four-week waiting period for people under 25 looking to apply for Newstart.  It is the belief of the Society that the collective effect of these changes will only serve to aggravate the inadequacy of the current Australian framework for income support, especially for vulnerable groups such as individuals with mental disorders and young people.  

Therefore, we call upon the government to not only reconsider the three significant reforms proposed by the Bill, but also to consider recommendations that would actually help these disadvantaged groups.  These include increasing Newstart payments by $50 per week, committing to a national plan for job creation, and reducing the cost of education so as to allow young people a better chance of establishing their own lives.

Report

The Committee has now reported on the Youth Employment Bill.

The report is here:

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Employment_Youth/Report.

The Committee supported the Bill, though there were two dissenting reports. 

The majority report did not engage with a number of issues which it had already examined in previous reports, but pointed out that some additional new measures in this Bill dealt with the issues adequately.

The first dissenting report quoted the Society’s view that “the Bill will not achieve its intended aims. Instead, the changes will only be to the detriment of those groups who are most vulnerable within our society”.  The dissenting report also repeated our deep concerns about imposing obligations on people who are not in receipt of payments as a prerequisite to getting payments at some future time.

The second dissenting report also quoted the Society on the points that the current rate of Newstart is inadequate, and our opposition to increasing the age of eligibility for NewStart.