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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6765


Mrs McNAMARA (Dobell) (16:43): On Friday 30 May I welcomed the Assistant Minister for Employment, the Hon. Luke Hartsuyker MP, to Dobell to officially launch the government's new Work for the Dole program. Dobell is one of 18 priority employment areas to implement phase 1 of this program. This means that 18- to 30-year-olds who have been unemployed for 12 months or more and receiving Newstart and/or youth allowance will now be required to participate in Work for the Dole, as opposed to the previous government's non-compulsory program. The former Labor government ran down Work for the Dole, introducing voluntary participation arrangements and removing the incentive for job seekers to participate and acquire new skills and self-confidence.

This government strongly believes that all Australians capable of working should be earning, learning or participating in Work for the Dole. Work for the Dole is an important part of this government's plan to assist young people gain the skills and experience they need to move from welfare to work. Importantly, Work for the Dole keeps young people engaged and active and allows them to make a positive contribution to their local community.

Commencing on 1 July, Work for the Dole participants will complete approximately 15 hours per week for six months in a work-like environment. Minister Hartsuyker and I formally launched Work for the Dole at the Central Coast Wetlands Pioneer Dairy at Tuggerah. The Central Coast Wetlands has benefited through a Work for the Dole project administered by Break Thru People Solutions. Minister Hartsuyker described the Central Coast Wetlands as:

… a great local community project, driven by great volunteers, with the support of a Work for the Dole team, …

Work for the Dole participants have undertaken various projects at the Central Coast Wetlands. As a community project run by volunteers this work is invaluable to the Dobell community.

Our visit offered the opportunity to meet with current and past Work for the Dole participants, as well as gaining a valuable insight into the benefits of the program. Daniel Mitchell joined the Work for the Dole project at the start of this year and through his involvement has now secured a job at the Central Coast Wetlands. Daniel explained that Work for the Dole had helped him 'to develop the work ethic and necessary skills that were needed to gain employment'.

We also heard the fantastic story of John Olarenshaw who, after finding himself unemployed for six months, made the decision to participate in Work for the Dole. John's decision definitely paid off: John now operates his own small business and credits Work for the Dole for his success, saying, 'The program helped me get back into the workforce and gain the confidence to find full-time work.' These are just two of the many examples that clearly demonstrate the benefits of Work for the Dole.

Service providers such as Break Thru People Solutions have provided the opportunity for job seekers to gain the confidence and skills that are required for employment. Currently, Break Thru People Solutions have 85 participants on various Work for the Dole projects. Ross Lewis, the Chief Executive Officer of Break Thru People Solutions, hailed Work for the Dole as a program that provides, 'Employability skills, positive self-esteem, establishment of work routine, team work, specific job skills, socialisation skills and normalisation of work based behaviours.'

I welcomed the minister's decision to launch Work for the Dole in Dobell, because we are a community that will benefit greatly under the new arrangements. Since my election as the member for Dobell, I have strongly advocated the need for the re-introduction of a real Work for the Dole program. Dobell is ranked ninth in New South Wales when it comes to recipients of youth allowance (other) and our full-time unemployment rate for young people, alarmingly, exceeds the national average. The Labour Force Survey of December 2013 found that on the Central Coast 28 per cent of people aged between 15 and 19 years who are looking for full-time work cannot find a job.

As evidenced by those present at our launch, this government understands that Work for the Dole delivers the skills and confidence that young people need to assist them obtain long-term, sustainable employment. The changes to Work for the Dole introduced by this government will see approximately 2,000 young people in Dobell qualify for this program and hence acquire the skills and experience needed to move from welfare to work and to contribute to our community. This is a great outcome, not only for our young job seekers but also for the broader community and organisations such as the Central Coast Wetlands.

I would like to thank Minister Hartsuyker for taking the time to visit Dobell and launch Work for the Dole. My thanks go also to Break Thru People Solutions and the Central Coast Wetlands for their hard work and commitment to providing local employment opportunities. I am proud to be part of a government that is committed to ensuring that there are positive outcomes for our youth. I look forward to sharing with this parliament Work for the Dole success stories and the ongoing benefits this program will bring to my local community.