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Job Network failing: welfare report.

Job Network Failing: Welfare Report


Cheryl Kernot - Shadow Minister for Employment and Training


Media Statement - 29 March 2000


The Government came under fire from its own interim welfare reform report yesterday over the running of the Job Network and over its habit of making income support recipients scapegoats and tools for divisive politics, Shadow Minister for Employment and Training, Cheryl Kernot, said today.


"In regard to the Job Network the report says:


• 'Currently, assistance is fragmented, disjointed and focussed on uncoordinated program outcomes (page 25).'


"The report says that people who require specialised assistance are simply not being catered for under the Job Network. For example, 'people who have disabilities, language difficulties, literacy or numeracy barriers, occupational rehabilitation needs, childcare needs, or require trauma counselling are not being given help with their problems (page 26)'."


Ms Kernot said the Howard Government has a hands-off attitude to Employment Services.


"These services have been outsourced to the private sector without safeguards being put in place, resulting in the most disadvantaged often missing out," Ms Kernot said.


"The interim report confirms this policy failure.


"Labor would act to ensure that job seekers receive the specialised help they need to gain employment.


"The Job Network needs to be closely linked with other Government services to give every job seeker the best chance of finding work and ongoing training opportunities.


"The interim welfare report also warns the Government that its 'blame the victim' mentality is damaging Australia:


• '...This recognition is important both to validate social participation and to counter the popular stereotype of people receiving income support as passive non contributors (page 13)


This negative and divisive stereotype is trotted out by the Prime Minister, Jocelyn Newman, Tony Abbott, Peter Reith and others on a regular basis.


"It is time for Tony Abbott to apologise for his "Job Snob" comments and look at the major reforms that are needed to make the Job Network function. This is the Government's responsibility under their mutual obligation contract."


Ms Kernot said the interim report also attacks the Howard Government's record on the unequal distribution of work in Australia.


"According to the report, 860,000 children are being raised in jobless households (page 6)," Ms Kernot said.


"This shows the Government's failure to translate economic growth into jobs, jeopardising the future of a generation of Australians.


"A key recommendation of the report is the need for an investment to be made in Australia's people.


"The report recognises - as Labor does - that skills are an essential component to employment creation, and that economic growth alone is not enough.


"Investment in skills, education and training is an area where the Howard Government has not only dropped the ball, they have kicked it away.


"Massive cuts to training have left many without the skills to adapt to a changing economy.


"On the other hand, Labor's proposals for early intervention skills training will ensure that all Australians will receive the lifelong training needed to gain and keep employment.


"There are many areas identified in this report that expose the Howard Government's policies for what they are - mean-spirited and misguided.


Authorised by Gary Gray, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.