Interview with John Stanley and Garry Linnell 2UE

Transcript
  • Assistant Minister for Employment

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

SUBJECTS: Work for the dole

COMPERE:

Serious news around today and perhaps not necessarily a surprise. News that unemployed Australians will be once again forced to work for the dole as part of the Abbott Government's welfare reforms. Telegraph reported today that jobless Aussies will be collecting rubbish, maintaining parks, volunteering in aged care facilities, in order to receive their payments.

Local councils will be asked to recruit volunteers from the 800,000 plus unemployed, to pitch in with community services. They've also talked about the idea of, you know, community service groups and some of the not profit groups, some of the charities, that might provide some work for these people, that will help them get back into work.

Now you posed a question earlier today. Of the 800,000 people, how many of those people are chronically unemployable, that just couldn't do anything? The man that might have the answers on this is the Assistant Minister for Employment who's overseeing these changes, Luke Hartsuyker, who joins us now. Good morning Minister.

LUKE HARTSUYKER:

Good morning.

COMPERE:

Okay. What - first of all, is this exactly what you are proposing?

LUKE HARTSUYKER:

Look, we're very much looking at ways in which we can make work for the dole more work like and provide the sorts of skills that employers are telling me they're looking for in job seekers. We have a situation where many job seekers lack the basic skills of turning up on time, looking presentable and so on and so forth and those soft skills, as they call them, are very valuable in getting a person into a job and we're looking at ways of making work for the dole more work like and of course the simple fact that the Government expects those who can work to be in work and we need to give them every opportunity and the Prime Minister has made it very clear on many occasions that we're keen to create jobs.

We are going to produce a million jobs over five years and two million jobs over 10 years. But for those who are shirking their responsibility or are unable to find work, work for the dole is certainly a very strong option.

COMPERE:

Alright. Minister, out of those 805,000 unemployed people in Australia right now, how many of those would - are those people that you are targeting? The people who just don’t want to work? The people who you mentioned turn up for job interviews without considering their appearance, without making any presentation. How many of those out of that 800,000?

LUKE HARTSUYKER:

Well look, there are a number of those in the case load, quite clearly. But overwhelmingly, most job seekers are doing the right thing. The stats are very clear on that. That the number of job avoiders, if you like, is a relatively small proportion. But work for the dole does a number of things.

It probably shakes out the system. It gets those job avoiders working. You know, also regrettably, there are people participating in the cash economy and surviving on benefits plus what they earn in the cash economy. The work for the dole makes it more difficult to pursue that avenue.

But the other thing with work for the dole is it's a motivator for many people. You talked about those who you classed as unemployable. Well, many people have barriers to employment and work for the dole is a good way on working on those barriers, giving them the soft skills, getting them used to doing what many people take for granted. That's turning up to a regular work place everyday.

If you've been unemployed for many years, that's quite a shock to the system and work for the dole can have a role in imparting those sorts of work ethics, if you like on people who have been out of the work system for a long time.

COMPERE:

I mean there is some examples though.  Like, you talk about some of the non profit organisations or charities. Who will actually teach these people that you've got to turn up on time, that you need to dress properly? Because in the end, if it's the charities doing it they're going to end up feeling like the person's a burden, rather than an asset to them.

LUKE HARTSUYKER:

Look and that's a good point that you raise and the role of presenting people to employers and potential employers, is very much in the cord of the job service providers. That's what they get paid to do, to give people the advice and guidance on how to get a job. We expect that those organisations that would participate with us will basically have the obligation of providing a safe workplace and an appropriate workplace and with regards to the obligations on what the job seeker should be able to do, that rests with - that rests with the Government and the job service providers.

COMPERE:

But doing some of these sort of more menial tasks is that going to make them better prepared for the workplace or will it sort of lower their self esteem even more?

LUKE HARTSUYKER:

Look, it's important to give people, you know, a reason to get up in the morning and whilst some tasks one person might seem - think is menial, for others they think it is - of it as quite fulfilling.

COMPERE:

Mm.

LUKE HARTSUYKER:

I think that work for dole can provide an important first step. It is - has proven to be great for raising people's self esteem. We have an obligation to make these placements as work like as possible, whilst not detracting from regular employment. It is not our view that our work for the dole placement would replace a job.

What we would be seeking to do is to be able to perhaps allow an organisation to do work that it wouldn't otherwise be able to do, because it didn't have the financial capacity to do that, for example. So I think that many participants in work for the dole find it very rewarding.

In the past we've had some considerable success when the Howard Government introduced work for the dole. There was a very significant improvement in work outcomes for those people who had been part of a work for the dole project. I'm very keen to see that we make the work experience as work like as possible and that people get the most they can out of such a placement.

COMPERE:

Alright. We're talking to the Assistant Minister for Employment, Luke Hartsuyker. You've also announced the crackdown on job seekers who knock back work opportunities close to their home. How do you define what is close to home? I mean, some people travel 100, 200 kilometres for a job, don't they?

LUKE HARTSUYKER:

Well look, the standard rule of thumb is 90 minutes. I think it's very important that where someone is offered a job that they take that job and the Government will be taking a very dim view of those people who refuse jobs.

Quite clearly, many people in major metro areas commute very long - well, long travel times, perhaps more than long distances and in regional areas some people do travel long distances to get to work. That's what the taxpayers who fund people's welfare benefits do and we expect people looking for a job to operate in a similar way.

COMPERE:

Yeah.  Okay, just before we - we are going to take some calls to see what our listeners think about this. But just to clarify, the work for the dole thing would run for three months? You have three months placement. So if I run a café for instance and I need someone to wash my dishes, I could get, you know, someone to come in and do that for three months?

LUKE HARTSUYKER:

No. We are not looking at placing work for the dole candidates or those jobseekers in paid employment places. What we are looking at doing is finding work like placements, perhaps with - and this is all something that I'm working on at the moment - but placing work for the dole participants perhaps with some form of not for the profit organisations, so that they get skills and work in a work like environment.

COMPERE:

Yeah. So when I mentioned aged care facilities, I mean you wouldn't have them doing the sort of work that professionals do there?

LUKE HARTSUYKER:

No. But what they might be able to do is perhaps help out in the gardens outside the facility with the maintenance staff, perhaps help with a painting job that was going on outside or something like that.

COMPERE:

Right.

LUKE HARTSUYKER:

So no, not replacing care staff.  That’s not our intention.

COMPERE:

Yep.

LUKE HARTSUYKER:

But perhaps working in the ground would be something that they could do.

COMPERE:

Alright. Thanks for your time.

LUKE HARTSUYKER:

A pleasure.

For more information

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