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Leaked report blasts Coalition's youth and special policy record.

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  Australian Labor Party   National ALP

Wayne Swan, Kate Lundy - Leaked Report Blasts Coalition's Youth And Social Policy Record Tuesday, 03 April 2001

Leaked Report Blasts Coalition's Youth And Social Policy Record Wayne Swan, Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, and Kate Lundy, Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs

Joint Media Statement - 2 April 2001

A leaked government report revealed in Question Time today has sharply criticised the Howard Government, including comments that its policies have forced some young people to engage in petty theft and drug dealing to survive.

The explosive comments are contained in the Prime Minister's Youth Pathways Action Plan Taskforce report - personally commissioned by the Prime Minister in September 1999 and due a full 13 months ago.

And now we know why it is late in coming.

Despite the Government's best efforts to sanitise the report it highlights how mean and out of touch the Coalition really is.

Despite talking up its youth and family friendly credentials, the Coalition's punitive and ill-conceived policies have had a tragic impact on young people and their families.

At the centre of the report is a scathing criticism of the Government's Youth Allowance policy, penalty regime, and access to employment services.

The report notes that there are massive problems with the Government's Youth Allowance policy, which is not flexible enough to adequately protect highly disadvantaged young people.

"Marginalised young people indicated that, in some circumstances, they had turned to petty theft or drug dealing to survive." (page 105) ●

Youth Allowance has been hailed by the Government as one of its greatest social policy achievements - but it was merely a cost-cutting exercise.


Levels of assistance were slashed to thousands of families, leaving them with inadequate means of support, and it now appears, the pursuit of desperate measures to survive.

The Report also criticises the punitive penalty regime, noting:

"A particular focus was an apparently rigid application of activity testing provisions, particularly upon young people experiencing difficult personal circumstances, for example as a result of family breakdown, sexual abuse, drug abuse or mental health problems." (page 105)


The community expects that there are responsibilities for young people on income support, but cutting people off benefits without caring for their personal circumstances highlights the Howard Government's cold heartedness.

The report also criticises the impact of the Government's policies on helping young Australians into work:

Income support is not well integrated with other forms of support for young people.In particular, the linkages between Centrelink and Job Network agencies need to be made more youth-friendly, and based on a measurable level of expertise in youth-based practice.. (page 104)


Young people face high up front and on-going costs associated with study or job search and existing income support levels are not sufficient to cover these costs. (page 104)


The Coalition and Minister Kemp have no credibility with young people . At best, they make the right sounds about wanting to involve young people in decision-making, but their words ring hollow when measured against their actions.

Their policies have driven increasing numbers of young people into poverty, and the refusal to release such a damning report shows the Howard government is in denial. It sees youth affairs as a public relations exercise only, not a genuine effort to tackle and solve real issues.

Our youth have been at the sharp end of many of the Howard Government's most conspicuous failures.

This Government has robbed Australia of the benefit of the full participation of our youth in our communities.

Mr Howard and Dr Kemp stand condemned for this, but doubly condemned for trying to suppress young voices raised in concern.


Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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