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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 6290


Ms KATE ELLIS (AdelaideMinister for Employment Participation and Childcare and Minister for the Status of Women) (18:42): Thank you for your questions. We are incredibly proud of the measures in this budget which are specifically aimed at the very long-term unemployed. We know that when we head towards projections of a 4.5 per cent unemployment rate it spells great promise for many Australians, but we want to make sure that people are not left out.

As you correctly identified, there is some $227.9 million in this budget aimed specifically at the cohort of the very long-term unemployed, those who have been out of work for some two years or more. One of those measures is the provision of 35,000 wage subsidies. I think I will take the second question first. The amount will be the equivalent of the Newstart payment approximately, but it is flexible and we can work with those needs around part time and full time and for how long that subsidy is required.

Your other question was: how do we ensure that there are not turnovers? We already operate wage subsidies at the moment. We operate wage subsidies under the JSA model and we have in place a series of protections. We obviously monitor the employers who are accessing this. We monitor the job seeker, where they go and how they continue post wage subsidy. We have in place strict protections to make sure that we do not see the sort of turnover which the member referred to. Does that mean that every job seeker continues on in that role in the long term after the subsidy ends? No, it does not. Some of them do not see it through for the six months. But it does mean that we monitor that through our department. We put in place every protection that we can.

The other thing that I should say on these wage subsidies which I think is significant is that we have extended these subsidies so that they are available to job seekers who are going through both Job Services Australia and also the Disability Employment Services. This is really important and it comes back to the question around part time and full time and the capacity to work. We will have these subsidies at an equivalent rate. It works out at around $6,000 for each job seeker. The way that that is put in place is obviously going to differ from position to position. The other measure which complements this is the $133 million which we have put into increased participation requirements on the very long-term unemployed. We know that not everybody is job ready, not everybody has maintained the skills, the confidence, the discipline and the whole range of things they need in order to step straight into employment. That is why we are extending the participation from six months to 11 months. We want to make sure that we are training up, that we are skilling, that we are preparing and getting job ready all of these job seekers. We know that the wage subsidies have been proven, through the model that already exists and through the wage subsidies that we already operate, as being one of the most effective ways that we can move the very long-term unemployed into employment.