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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3389

Senator FOREMAN —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. It concerns a recent survey of mature age workers undertaken by the Bureau of Labour Market Research and released last week. Can the Minister indicate what programs are available within the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations specifically to assist mature age unemployed people? Will the Department be implementing any additional programs in light of this report?

Senator BUTTON —As Senator Foreman well knows, because he has asked many questions about the employment situation, the unemployment statistics represent something of a blancmange; we deal with a particular situation in one area, then a new situation emerges in another. That is particularly true in relation to age profiles of the unemployed. As Senator Foreman correctly pointed out, a survey has been conducted under the aegis of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations in relation to mature age unemployed. The Federal Government has in place several programs which offer a range of services, many of which would be applicable to those in the age group to which the honourable senator referred.

I refer briefly to some of those programs. Firstly, there is the community employment program. The Government expects, given the relatively high level of unemployment amongst those of 25 years of age and over, that the program will achieve a reasonable balance between the participation of both the younger and older age groups. Secondly, there is LATA, the labour adjustment training arrangements, which provide redundant workers with training to upgrade and broaden skills. While I have no specific knowledge of the application of LATA, it has been particularly true in some of the steel centres, for example where there has been unemployment, that that scheme has specifically catered for more mature age workers. I believe it has been quite successful in that respect.

The third general assistance program involves the general training assistance which is provided to individuals with previous labour market experience who, without training or retraining, have difficulty obtaining stable and rewarding employment. There is also, fourthly, the adult wage subsidy scheme under which employers are offered a wage subsidy to provide adult long term unemployed job seekers with a period of stable employment. Finally, in addition to these specific labour force programs, mature age unemployed people may benefit through the various advisory counselling and other assistance services provided by the Commonwealth Employment Service. I must say in relation to the adult wage subsidy scheme that this program was specifically introduced in view of the fact that the recession was found to be severely affecting adult workers.

I should also add that the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations will shortly be announcing a thorough external review of departmental labour force programs. He has already indicated that this study should have special regard in its terms of reference to the needs of mature age unemployed people.