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Friday, 1 September 1989
Page: 817

Senator ZAKHAROV —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment, Education and Training. What is being done through the youth social justice strategy announced in the Budget to improve the access to employment, education and training of young people who are disadvantaged because they face barriers such as lack of training or experience or, particularly in the case of young people in rural areas, living a long way from possible places of employment?

Senator WALSH —Youth unemployment has declined quite substantially in recent years. In spite of that, the incidence of long-term unemployment, especially on a regional basis-I know that Senator Zakharov was particularly interested in the rural youth unemployed-remains a problem. Accordingly, the Commonwealth will allocate nearly $26m over the next four years to improve training and unemployment support for the most disadvantaged. That will be in addition to the $8m which will be spent in improving access to information and advice for disadvantaged young people.

Specifically, we will introduce the joint Social Security and Commonwealth Employment Service contract arrangement for all job search allowance recipients after 12 months continuous registration with the CES, the objective being to improve the quality of information available to long-term unemployed people on a range of issues-labour market training, entry assistance and so on. It is expected that some 4 1/2 thousand young people will be assisted through those arrangements in a full year. The Newstart program will also be extended to 18 to 20-year-olds in receipt of unemployment benefits, thus extending the benefits of that program to an additional 6,000 18 to 20-year-olds in a full year. The Government will also implement a program of labour market training and assistance for particularly disadvantaged young people to improve their labour market entry prospects.

I know that Senator Zakharov was particularly interested in the position of rural young unemployed people and these programs will be available generally throughout the country. The place of residence will not be a requirement for qualification, but to the extent that it is possible the Government will ensure that the same opportunities are made available to those young people unemployed and living in rural areas as are available elsewhere. To the extent we can possibly do so, we will make sure that facilities are made available to them.