YNOT Submission on the Exposure Draft for Employment Services 2015-2020

Date: Mon, 25/08/2014

The Youth Network of Tasmania (YNOT) welcomes this opportunity to provide feedback in relation to ‘Exposure Draft for Employment Services 2015-2020’. The changes proposed in the Exposure Draft have particularly captured the attention of YNOT as the potential impacts for young people are alarming. The proposed changes are highly relevant to young people in Tasmania and to the Tasmanian Youth Sector, as the lives of many people aged 12-25 years will be disproportionately affected by the proposed changes to job services and the income support system.

Young people bring needed skills and a unique perspective to many workplaces and the vast majority of young people want to participate in stable employment and contribute to their communities. Despite this, many young people face considerable barriers to gaining employment. Research has shown that regardless of young peoples’ experience, capacity, ethnicity, location, aspirations, and needs, they are generally at a disadvantage in the labour market (Greenwood 1996).

Young people are considered to be amongst the most disadvantaged cohorts in our community, many of whom face multiple barriers preventing them from fully participating in the community. Australia's youth unemployment rate has grown to 12.5% since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008; causing 257,000 young Australians aged 15 to 24 to become unemployed. Younger workers are also twice as likely to be seeking more hours of work compared to workers in other age groups. The underemployment rate for 15 to 24 year olds is 12.6% and for the whole population it is 6.9% (Cameron & Denniss 2013). In February 2014, 425,617 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients were looking for work, but at the same time there were only 140,800 vacancies, which potentially means there were at least three job applicants for each vacancy (Gilbie 2014). The average length of time it takes to become employed has also increased from 16 weeks in 2008 to 29 weeks in 2014 (Hernandez 2014).

Tasmanian youth are a particularly disadvantaged cohort. Tasmania’s youth unemployment rate ranges from 18.2% to 21%, the highest of any region in Australia. Tasmania ranks at the bottom among Australian states on virtually every measure of economic, social and cultural performance. Tasmanian has the lowest levels of income, education and literacy. Tasmania also has the highest rates of chronic disease, smoking, obesity, teenage pregnancy, petty crime and domestic violence, and the poorest longevity (West 2013). The population within Tasmania is also the oldest in the country and the population is ageing faster than any other state or territory, resulting in less employment opportunities for young people.

YNOT believes Australia needs a new approach to assisting young people who are unemployed; by building their qualifications, skills and experience, young people have a better chance of securing a job in the modern economy. Support services are essential in assisting young people to navigate their way through the employment market and also to maintain employment, which will reduce the likelihood of young people experiencing long term disadvantage. YNOT strongly believes that any changes to the welfare system should be introduced to benefit the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community. It is through genuine support that young people can navigate the employment market to find suitable employment and a future of self-reliance. YNOT would be would be keen to participate in any further consultations in relation to this topic.