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Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Page: 5013


Ms SAFFIN (Page) (15:09): My question is to the Minister for Employment Participation and Minister for Early Childhood and Childcare. Will the minister please outline how our employment services are working to make sure that more Australians benefit from our strong labour market conditions?

Ms KATE ELLIS (AdelaideMinister for Employment Participation and Minister for Early Childhood and Childcare) (15:09): I take the opportunity to thank the member for Page for her question and for her long-held interest in this area. The member for Page knows well that our government has just delivered a budget which will return us to surplus, a budget that spreads the benefits of the mining boom but also, importantly, a budget that supports the most vulnerable people in Australia. Of course, we know that many of the most vulnerable people in Australia are those who are outside of the labour market—those who are unemployed and, in some cases, who have been trapped in a cycle of intergenerational welfare dependence. This Labor budget commits some $9.3 billion to our employment services over the next four years so that we can help spread the benefits of our prosperity.

With an April unemployment rate of 4.9 per cent, we know that hundreds of thousands of Australians are sharing in the benefits and the dignity of work. But statistics like this do not just happen. We worked hard to create Job Services Australia, and I can now inform the House that, less than three years after these services were established, our providers have now successfully made over one million job placements across the nation. It is significant that amongst these placements the outcomes for the most disadvantaged Australians—for those suffering mental illness, for those who are homeless and for those facing multiple disadvantage—have improved by a staggering 90 per cent.

This is the agenda that we are progressing. This is the Labor way: ensuring that individuals are not left on the sidelines, that those with the capacity to work are in work and that they are given every opportunity to participate. We know this is for their benefit but it is also for the benefit of our economy and our productivity. We are proud of the progress that we have made but we know that there is more to be done. In our budget we have announced new measures, new support, for the job seekers who need it the most, and new incentives for employers to help those job seekers to get that first foot in the door that they need.

Our government has been very clear that no-one should be left behind. We are committed to ensuring that Australians have the chance to share in our prosperity. Through this focus, through this budget, we are creating jobs. We are supporting the workers who put in the hard slog and deserve the benefit, but we are also increasing workforce participation to help spread the benefits of the strong economy, and our nation is both stronger and fairer as a result of it.

Mr Swan: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.