Anglicare calls for reform to employment services

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Employment services are failing older Australians, with many heading towards retirement being forced to sell their homes, spend their savings and live their later years in poverty.

Following the release of the Anglicare Australia Jobs Availability Snapshot, Anglicare Australia has called for an overhaul of employment services for older people.

“The job market isn’t working for everyone. It’s failing those who need the most help to find work – people applying for low-skilled work. Our research shows that at least four of these jobseekers are competing for each job at their level,” said Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers.

“Older people in this group face even tougher odds. Age discrimination and the demand for advanced skills make it hard to compete.

“This problem is getting worse. Mature-age jobseekers now make up 28 per cent of the Jobactive caseload – and research shows that it takes them much longer to find work.”

The report aims to show what the job market is really like for those facing employment barriers, particularly for those who may not have adequate qualifications or experience, those who are trying to re-enter the workforce after a long break, or for people living in regional or remote areas.

Results reveal that, while the Government proclaims that there is a jobs boom across the country, there is a dearth of low-skill, entry-level work that would typically suit older people looking to bridge a gap between full-time employment and retirement.

Just 25,997 of the total 185,662 jobs listed in May 2018 were for low-skill work. There were 110,735 jobseekers with barriers to work, many of whom were 55 and older. This means, nationwide, four or five of these people were competing for each of the jobs listed. In Western Australia it’s six; South Australia, eight, and in Tasmania, there were 12 jobseekers for each job.

Older workers, where the industry utilising their skills has declined, face ongoing barriers to regaining employment. To make matters worse, says the Anglicare report, the longer people are unemployed, the longer they are likely to remain so, and their only option is to access Newstart payments.

But Ms Chambers said the low rate of Newstart is a major problem for older people.

“Many people believe that Newstart is a payment for younger people, but that’s a myth. The number of older Australians on Newstart is growing by 10,000 a year.

“Instead of preparing to retire, many people are being forced to sell their homes and spend their savings. Nobody should be forced to retire into poverty.”

So Ms Chambers has called for employment services system reforms.

“It’s time to overhaul the Jobactive network. It’s taking an average of five years to find work for those who need the most help – and it’s likely to take much longer for older people,” she said.

“We need to offer tailored support to older people seeking work. That means smaller caseloads, more time to work with jobseekers, and less time on compliance.

“We need to abandon the cruel, pointless changes of recent years. People over 55 are no longer allowed to meet their mutual obligation requirements with volunteering. That rule doesn’t help anybody and must be reversed.

“And if we want to stop people from retiring into poverty, then we must raise Newstart and stop lifting the pension age.

“These changes are urgent. If we don’t fix this broken system, we will be forcing people to spend their older years in poverty.”

Have you had trouble finding work? Do you believe that Newstart rates are a problem?

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49 Comments

Total Comments: 49
  1. 0
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    What percentage of the Anglicare workforce are over 55?

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      40% of jobs are not jobs at all as not full time. You cannot live from 4 hours work a day but that is what this rotten to the core government has done for its business partners. Over 55s are much worse off and discrimination has been rampant for decades but nothing done to give older Australians a fair go of any sort.
      Bring on the election. I know who you are voting for Ted. Good luck to you.

  2. 0
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    I am really glad I am no longer required to look for work. It is soul-destroying as no-one seems interested in employing anyone over 50. I would hate to try and exist on Newstart, because it certainly is not enough to live on

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      I agree patti, if applications go unanswered or, if answered, contain the bad news that someone with better (fill in all the excuses) has been offered the job, the feeling of worthlessness starts to creep in. In the case of younger people, it’s easy to see why some give up looking as the pain of rejection becomes overbearing. None of us likes pain and the way to avoid this type of pain is to stop asking for work as each refusal builds the pressure.

    • 0
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      Agree Patti! I did have to exist on newstart for 8 months, drastically depleting my meagre superannuation. Like you, I am glad I no longer HAVE to look for work, it was really soul destroying and humiliating to be – often – so openly ignored. To go from ‘you’re exactly what the company is looking for’ (upon them getting my application) to ‘you’re not what the company is looking for’ (after going to an interview). Nothing else had changed except that they SAW me —and No, I am NOT the hunch back of Notre Dame!
      Thank god I worked my butt off and paid off my house mortgage – not easy as a solo.
      Now that I don’t look for jobs, I have never been busier! I do the occasional baby sitting, dog minding (look after dogs for workers after surgery), and a few hours a week deliver flowers for a florist.
      It is totally soul destroying, and the Job Service offices are absolutely useless and heartless.

  3. 0
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    It is not only a problem with low-skill work once you are over a certain age. When are the blissfully ignorant and unaffected going to learn this fact so that the stigma can be removed and we can proceed to a more inclusive welfare system.

  4. 0
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    Another slow day on the news front, I would have to see some evidence of people having to sell their homes to survive and then retiring into poverty, something smells with this story, what’s the agenda?

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      Plenty of examples around Jim.

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      In all honesty I have yet to see any examples of anyone having to sell their homes to survive, you say their are plenty of examples, I don’t doubt your sincerity, I have been retired for 9 years and have many friends and casual acquaintances of a similar age to myself, and I have never heard of anyone having to sell up to survive, from a logical point of view someone who owned their own home would likely be in a better position to survive than someone paying rent, so I could understand if someone fell on hard times later in life through divorce or illness and in those circumstances I can see were property may have to be sold, but are there many situations like that, I don’t know.

    • 0
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      Jim, If you had a good wage and was paying off a mortgage then found yourself unemployed, you would then not have enough money to cover the repayment, hence people needing to sell their homes. Pretty basic maths here. You try to live on new start and pay all your bills including rent let alone a mortgage or rent. No job = no money going into a super fund so disadvantaged there. They may have used some super trying to pay off mortgage but in doing so have lost valuable super for the future.

    • 0
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      Well dragonfly I can’t disagree with your comments, I guess I might be looking at a different demographic than the one the article is aimed at, most if not all of the people in my circle had paid off their homes long before retirement, although I seem to recall one couple who decided to upgrade later in life, then he was made redundant, don’t recall if he got a payout I haven’t seen him for years, but maybe he would fall into that bracket, again I don’t know how many people are affected in this way, am I being naive to think they would be in the minority, I am not suggesting that it wouldn’t be a disaster for these things to happen later in life and I don’t have any idea as how people can be best helped if these things do happen to them.

    • 0
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      Try this scenario. Purchase family home from ex in property settlement. Can do so because you have plenty of equity in the house and a well paying fulltime job so bank will lend you money. Lose job at 56. Cannot access Newstart because there is a protracted case with Fairwork over unfair dismissal. Once this is finalised, still no job and Centrelink decides you are not an Australian Citizen because you were born in the UK to Australian citizens and came to Australia at 3 months old on your mother’s passport. Immigration has no record of you ( because you are NOT an immigrant! ). Not enough super to commence retirement at that age and certainly not enough to pay a mortgage. Sell house in a fire sale for money to live. Still unable to procure fulltime employment. In the end – deposit money from house sale into super and commence SIS and try to find 10 hours per week part time employment. Most super will be gone by age pension age. And this so you can pay rent and have somewhere to live. Newstart inadequate for this even after “buying” Australian Citizenship. Our welfare system has many anomalies with many people caught in them. I was actually one of the more fortunate because I had a house to sell and had worked for a number of years while still raising a family. And I had a profession so was able to earn reasonable money while working.

    • 0
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      I would love to know where you live because this is absolutely happening. I recently helped my elderly aunt sell her home, and move in to a nursing home. Talked often with the agent. He said the 2 largest area of his sales are from elderly people no longer able to stay in their homes, and seniors having to sell their homes due to unemployment.

    • 0
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      sunnyOz I do not like to reveal too much information as I believe this problem is widespread. However, which island state has high rates of unemployment, particularly amongst older workers? And now the property market has become unaffordable for most locals? Probably so have our nursing homes! This is a very real problem which is not at all recognized and is contributing greatly to homelessness. People who say you can rent out your home don’t understand this is income under Centrelink rules and with rents now so high is not an economical proposition if you have no other income. Stigma still abounds and people do not realise it can happen to anyone!

  5. 0
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    If all the Australian companies that are working overseas instead of in Australia were to bring these jobs back for Australian workers it help immensely to alleviate the shortage of jobs in Australia. The more jobs lost the more the government has to provide some sort of welfare and gets less tax. When are they going to wake up and look after Australian workers.

    • 0
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      Offshore companies should pay an entry and exit tax… any offshore business wishing to set up here must have a mandatory minimum 50% local participation in shareholding and management and employment must come from here first **,someone suggested a money transfer tax off/onshore at a very low percentage, that would resolve fiscal problems.

      Rae.. was that you on that last?

      **Many former Third World nations, especially in Asia, have that policy as regards foreign investment… investment is flocking there…. if we are going to be driven with whips into Third World status to satisfy the parasites and leeches and sharks of the ‘global economy’, then we will do so with OUR rules….

      (keyboard error word for today:-

      Offshoire – Mister Frodo speaks on offshoring….)

    • 0
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      Yes, Priscilla, it’s a disgrace. Companies close their doors here putting hundreds of employees out of work and go overseas where wages are much less so their profits are much higher. You’re right, it should not be allowed or, like Trebor wrote, exit and entry tax.
      We seem to have politicians deliberately killing Australia and they’re voted back in again.

    • 0
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      You just might put a prohibition on imported footwear and clothing to get the work back here. I had a look at my clothes and shoes and everything is made outside Australia. We want cheap stuff and do not want to pay the workers a proper wage.
      Look at the Aussies going to Asia – they go there because their workers work for monkey nuts. Funny that many people always shouting for better wages for workers go there as well.

    • 0
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      Sadly, Cowboy Jim, bringing back tariffs on imported goods won’t work as overseas goods are such a large part of the economy that it will be too hard to go back. We can always refuse to buy imported products but I have found that those who talk loudest about such a tactic will usually be found to be the ones buying the cheap imports. It’s like doing something to combat climate change; let everyone else do it, they won’t miss my contribution. Wages are rising slowly and even though they are just above the CPI, other factors not included in the CPI “basket” are outstripping the rises. Cheaper goods are often keeping people clothed, shod and fed.

    • 0
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      Trebor, you made some good points there. Also, the tax system here should only allow Deductions for companies for LOCAL expenses for labour or materials (unless the latter is not available here). The Asian countries, Arabs, etc, must really think we are a stupid, stupid country!

      Nothing wrong with using Tariffs to level the playing field, OM. Including, tax any Overseas labour used by companies at low rates (called Outsourcing). We should stop being mugs (we should at least get inspiration from Trump in this regard, if nothing else). Just need political guts (someone like Trump).

    • 0
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      It’s a tough call. I would need a huge income increase to stop buying overseas products.

      I work for a company that employs mostly overseas workers. They are paying $11 an hour for workers who, in Australia, easily command $80 an hour or more. If forced to pay Aussies instead, they would close their doors. They simply could not survive.

      The world has changed because of technology and now it’s easy to outsource workers in many professions to countries where labour rates are low. It means our cost of living falls. It means some Aussie’s can compete in business with certain types of imported product. And it means Aussie workers have to compete with workers who can work for peanuts because their cost of living is a tiny fraction of ours and their expected standard of living is lower.

      A few years ago, a furniture store owner commented to me that the answer to our economic woes was to reduce our wages to the level in Asia. ”We pay way too much,” he said. “I can’t afford to stock Australian-made and I can’t afford to hire people to make stuff here.” I sympathize. He’s probably right. But as I replied, ”If we reduce wages, we plunge Aussie workers into poverty. We’ll have workers living in cardboard boxes and eating nothing but rice, like in Asia. Is that what we want?”

      Even tariffs, taxing overseas labour, refusing tax deductions for overseas purchases – all of these options sound good in theory, but the flow-on effects could be devastating. A lot of businesses would collapse, leaving a lot of workers without jobs. Prices would skyrocket. For every action there is a reaction, and we have to know exactly what the reaction would be – and we simply don’t. Nobody does. It’s too complex.

  6. 0
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    There appears to be no value on experience, I am an older person with a varied experience but I find that just walking in the door it is as if “Oh No!” “Not another old bloke!”

    • 0
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      You are right there, Wickedness. I could run rings around most younger workers in both knowledge and experience, and have very up-to-date skills, but one look at my age and most employers just shook their heads. After losing a job at 54, it took me 12 years to find an employer who actually appreciates my ability and doesn’t care how old I am. He also doesn’t care what bits of paper or letters after the name someone has or hasn’t or what university you went to (He thinks the University of Life or the University of Always Teaching Myself are among the best!). He cares what you are capable of doing for his business, and what you WANT to do for him, and nothing else. And when you prove yourself, he treats you like family – worries about you when you are unwell, reminds you constantly to put yourself and family first, says ”please” and ”thank you” and ”when might you be able to…?” and sends regular messages of appreciation telling you what an asset you are to the company and how fortunate he is to have you on board. He could teach a lot of business operators a thing or two about how to get the best people on board and get the best out of them. Pity he wouldn’t stand for political office.

  7. 0
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    The job market simply isn’t working – by design, and until any future government (there is no hope with the current one) divests itself of ideology that is costing billions for no return; of the insanity of ‘privatisation’ into the hands of a few mates, self, family and cronies; and of ‘globalism’ as its mainstay (a back brace on a fractured economy) for the spine of this economy – nothing will change for the better.

    Greed is good has not worked and will not work, trickledown has never worked yet, elitism and references to ‘lifters’ and ‘leaners’ deserves the rubbish bin of history without pension, perks or nice job for life; and Labor is not exempt from that, nor are the Greens. Each has contributed its share to The Big Sellout.

    As this refers to older people, they are thrown on the scrapheap every day, and the nation and countless in it suffer as a result, particularly from the scorn of young ‘managers’ who have a huge percentage of failure in running business.

  8. 0
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    No wonder ‘they’ want to legalise euthanasia.
    Poor elderly may choose to leave this world and jobs for younger generation and another problem off the government shoulder…

    THIS IS ELDERLY GENOCIDE!

    • 0
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      Well, they SHOULD legalise compassionately-assisted dying, but that’s another topic entirely. Nothing to do with economics of pensions or age-related unemployment – at least not in discussion with anyone with a sense of decency. But I agree with you, HKW, that the government would love to get rid of a lot of the aged.

  9. 0
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    Absolutely Newstart is not enough for anyone, old or young. It’s disgusting that it is not higher.

    • 0
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      If more people paid taxes by working then maybe Newstart could afford to be higher

    • 0
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      If the rich paid taxes, Circum, we could afford a healthy society in which people who can’t work are adequately supported and there are decent job opportunities for all who can. The problem isn’t people not working. It’s the rich hoarding all the wealth in tax havens and using every means available to load their coffers at the expense of the majority. Most people want to work, and will do so if given a fair opportunity.

      Did you actually read the article? Between four and TWELVE people competing for every available job. Just how do you think these folk are supposed to work?

  10. 0
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    Newstart is not eneough for anyone except a young person living at home. I shudder to think what happens to a young family when the breadwinner can’t find work. It must be increased. Older people are more likely forced to use up all their Super when they can’t find work until they can get the OAP. Surely, you would take in boarders before selling up. Then again, some might be convinced to sell and use up all their money over a ten year period. Anyone over 60 will struggle with prejudice in employment. Sad state of affairs

    • 0
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      In such a scenario Sundays, the family can claim a range of other benefits on top of the Newstart allowance. So much so that it can become uneconomical to actually get a job because it could pay less than the the welfare benefits!

    • 0
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      Really, KSS! Like what? I couldn’t even get Newstart until I drained my savings completely,

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