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Work for the Dole initiative

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Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service

[16 June 1997]

Work for the Dole initiative

Up to 10,000 young unemployed people would be disadvantaged by any delay or obstruction to passage of the Work for the Dole legislation in the Senate, the Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training, Dr David Kemp, said today.

The first pilot projects will start in October, this year, if the Senate passes the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Work for the Dole) Bill 1997 by the end of the current session of Parliament. If the legislation is not passed by the end of this session of Parliament, the projects will not start until at least next year.

If the legislation is defeated or its integrity destroyed by amendments in the Senate, the Government will return the Bill unchanged to the Senate after three months, setting up a possible trigger for a double dissolution election.

"Labor is trying to destroy the Work for the Dole initiative. It tried to block the legislation in the House of Representatives but failed. It intends to do the same in the Senate," Dr Kemp said.

"Labor is demonstrating that it is out of touch with young people and employers.

"Some of the strongest supporters of the Work for the Dole initiative have been young unemployed people, who want to be able to make a valuable contribution to their community.

"Employers have indicated they are more likely to hire a person who had participated in a Work for the Dole project than someone who had not.

"Work for the Dole will benefit participants and communities. It will help break the cycle of despair experienced by many young people who have been unemployed for many months or years. It will help them restore their confidence and establish links within their community.

"All projects must directly benefit the community and not a private business. A condition of each project is that it does not replace or substitute for paid jobs."

Dr Kemp said the underlying principle of Work for the Dole - mutual obligation - had strong public support.

"Communities are prepared to provide financial support for people who do not have a job. In return, it is fair and reasonable to ask those receiving this support to put something back into their community a couple of days a week," he said.

Up to 70 community projects for 10,000 participants will be piloted for 12 months. Most of the projects will be in regional areas with high youth unemployment.

Features of the Work for the Dole initiative are:

. participants aged between 18 and 20 will work two 6-hour days each week

. participants aged 21 or more will work two-and-a-half 6-hour days each week

. the maximum participation period is six months

. it is expected that most participants will be volunteers, however some people will be required to work for their dole

. all participants will be covered by appropriate insurance

"A person may only be required to participate in a Work for the Dole project if they are in receipt of the full unemployment allowance and there is no risk to personal health or any contravention of occupational health and safety laws," Dr Kemp said.

Media inquiries: Michael Smith, 06 277 7540