Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 9 May 1985
Page: 1646

Senator McKIERNAN —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Is the Government considering easing the requirements for the older unemployed who find it very difficult to get work and very irksome to have to report fortnightly their progress or failure to get work to their local social security officers? Is the Government considering any special steps which will remove pressure on such people to prove that they are looking for work, even though they may be aware that their search is unlikely to succeed?

Senator GRIMES —In common with Senator McKiernan, I have a great deal of sympathy for those in that latter age group who become unemployed because there is no work in the area, because they are unfit, or in particular in recent times because of technological change in industry. Many of them even when they are unfit are not eligible for invalid pensions. I formed the view when I was Minister for Social Security that it was administratively cumbersome for the Department and extremely trying for the individuals involved to prove that their unemployment was not for want of trying. I have been informed by my colleague the Minister for Social Security, Mr Howe, that next month he is to begin a pilot study in the Wollongong-Dapto area on the possible relaxation of fortnightly reporting for the older unemployed. This will be a six-month pilot study, which will begin during the week starting 3 June. Invitations are being mailed to approximately 1,000 clients inviting participation in that pilot study.

Those people who wish to accept the offer of relaxed reporting requirements will be interviewed. At that time their rights and obligations under the pilot study will be explained. It is expected that the first payments of unemployment benefit under these arrangements will occur during the week beginning 10 June this year. During the pilot study all clients are to be reviewed at three-monthly intervals for continuing entitlement to unemployment benefit. The format of that review will alternate between full in-office interviews and a questionnaire similar to the current review which is being held. Quite clearly, with changes in technology and the nature of industry in recent times, it is important that we recognise that there is a special group in this age group. I hope that the pilot study will be merely the commencement of an Australia-wide program to recognise the very special needs of these people.