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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4358

Youth Jobs PaTH Program

Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:59): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Senator Canavan. Senator Cash told estimates, in relation to the PaTH program:

The Department of Jobs and Small Business closely monitors all internship placements to ensure program requirements are met.

But Minister Cash's department says:

We don't collect information on the hours that they work.

Who is correct—the minister or her department?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (15:00): I thank Senator O'Neill for her question. I do not have specific information with regard to the detail of that question, so I'll have to take it on notice. I would say that the government is very proud of the PaTH program and the 25,000 jobs it's created, particularly for young Australians. As I said earlier today, it's very important that we give young Australians a start. So we make no apology for creating a very strong program that can do that.

Indeed, Youth Jobs PaTH is delivering real results for young Australians right across the country, from inner city suburbs to regional towns. As I said, more than 25,000 jobs have been created. Nearly 70 per cent of young people who complete their internships move on to a real, paid job that will help that young person move from what would otherwise be a future of welfare into work. That is what we want to see for young Australians, not just for the important financial security that a job provides but also for, of course, the personal dignity and sense of fulfilment that come from having paid employment rather than relying on the charity of or payments from others.

As of 24 June this year, the Employability Skills Training program has helped 21,799 young people with their work readiness through tailored, industry-specific training. Of those, 7,185 jobseekers—that is, 33 per cent—have gone on to an internship or job placement within six months of commencing their course. PaTH internships have helped another 2,292 young interns build their work experience and skills in the workplace to gain employment, and Youth Bonus wage subsidy agreements have supported the creation of over 25,000 jobs. These are great results for young Australians, and we hope that this program continues to support young Australians to get a job and get on with their lives in a way that gives them dignity and financial security.

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Neill, a supplementary question.

Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (15:02): Can the minister confirm that, in the program's first year, just 5,473 PaTH internships were created, meaning that the government failed to meet its target of 30,000 internships by 80 per cent?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (15:02): The information I have here is that PaTH internships have helped 2,292 young interns build their work experience. I'll take on notice the detail of the question that Senator O'Neill mentioned and come back to the Senate.

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Neill, a final supplementary question.

Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (15:02): Minister, three young people undertaking PaTH internships have been seriously injured and there have been 33 reported complaints. Why is the Turnbull government doing nothing to protect young jobseekers but everything to give big business an $80 billion handout?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (15:03): We take any incident that the senator referred to very seriously, and, of course, we take complaints about the program very seriously too. Obviously, with any government program, there will at times be complaints. The important thing is that the government is serious in responding to them. I can report, however, that, of the 2,885 businesses that have taken on interns under the PaTH program, just two of those business have been suspended from the program. We would argue this is quite a high degree of compliance and effectiveness—

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Canavan! Senator O'Neill, on a point of order?

Senator O'Neill: I appreciate the information but I would really like an answer to the question, which was particularly about the three young people who have been seriously injured and the 33 reported complaints.

The PRESIDENT: I can't instruct the minister how to answer the question as long as he is being relevant, and I believe he is.

Senator CANAVAN: As I was mentioning, the government is proud of the opportunities that the PaTH program has created for young Australians and is proud of the record of compliance under the program. We, of course, investigate all complaints appropriately. This program is creating opportunities and jobs for young Australians, and that is very positive.

Senator Cormann: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.