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Friday, 23 November 1979
Page: 3015

Senator Chipp asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 20 November 1979:

Are unemployment benefits immediately cancelled when recipients take on a short term skills training program at their own expense; if so: (a) why; (b) how does this accord with the expressed policy of the Minister of Employment and Youth Affairs to reduce the gap between the needs of employers and the lack of training of the unemployed; and (c) will the Minister take immediate steps to have the situation rectified so that an unemployed person receiving benefits will continue to receive those benefits whilst undergoing short training courses and not be persecuted because of his initiative.

Senator Guilfoyle - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

Section 107 of the Social Services Act provides that in order to be eligible for payment of unemployment benefit a person must, among other things, satisfy the DirectorGeneral that throughout the relevant period he was unemployed and was capable of undertaking suitable paid work and had taken reasonable steps to obtain such work.

The Commonwealth Employment Service assists in the administration of the above provisions by acting as agent for the Department of Social Security in the application of the work test which among other things, is the process of determining whether applicants for employment who claim or who are in receipt of unemployment benefit are capable and prepared to accept suitable employment.

Where a person receiving unemployment benefit commences a short-term training course payment may be continued if the Commonwealth Employment Service determines that the work test requirements are met and the Director-General is satisfied that the training activity does not interfere with the beneficiary's ability to meet the above statutory requirements.

It is generally accepted that attendance at classes for a period not exceeding eight hours per week during normal working hours or participation in a training course for a period of about two weeks would not necessarily interfere with a person's eligibility to receive unemployment benefit. Each case is, however, dealt with on its individual merits.

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