Dole bludgers bleed millions from taxpayers

Recently released figures show that 105 Victorians have been out of work for more than two decades, claiming the equivalent of $26 million in payments. On top of this, a whopping 48,000 Victorians have also been unemployed for over two years.

Across Australia there are 105,000 people who have been looking for work for more than five years. This is despite the national, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate falling from 5.3 to 5.2 per cent.  National Welfare Rights Network president Maree O’Halloran said that these figures indicate that Australia is in the grip of an unemployment crisis and a substantial investment in wage subsidies and work payments is needed.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has called the figures for long-term unemployment national embarrassment and reiterated that a work-for-the-dole scheme should be mandatory for unemployed people under 50. In response to the news, Mr Abbott said “We have to do more to lift people off welfare and back into work. We also need incentives for people to go looking for a job”.

A spokesperson for Employment Minister Bill Shorten said the aim of the $3 billion Building Australia’s Future Workforce package was to provide initiatives to ensure the long-term unemployed were engaged and job ready.

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Opinion – Time to bring back National Service?

In Victorian alone there are 105 people who have been unemployed for over twenty years. When you consider that Victoria is home to over five million people, this may not sound a huge number, but these 105 people have claimed the equivalent of $26 million in benefits based on current rates.

Tony Abbott has long championed a work-for-the-dole scheme for those who are under 50 and unemployed. And I can’t say this is a bad idea, but perhaps we need to start looking at children coming out of school first. While a record number of children in Australia now attend some form of tertiary education, there are still those who leave school with no qualifications and end up going straight to Centrelink to claim benefits. Simply saying that they should have worked harder at school won’t ease the burden on the state to provide for them.

A form of National Service could be the answer. First introduced to Australia in 1965, in response to the aggressive Communism in Asia, the scheme lasted only eight years and was abolished in 1973, by then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. While peace time National Service was seen by many as unnecessary, an amended scheme could pave the way for young, unemployed Australians to not only ‘earn their keep’, but also to build a sense of community and give youngsters training to help them later in life.

Schemes such as working on community projects, working with charities and undertaking practical life-skills courses could provide the direction that many young people miss throughout their formative school years. No longer does the family unit or school environment necessarily provide such support. Rather than have youngsters only looking for work, which may not be available to them anyway, their time could be better employed, with a sense of achievement, personal satisfaction and community contribution the hopeful outcome.

If, as expected, long-term unemployment continues to grow, then surely we need to act to stop people simply accepting this as their fate and show young people that there are other options.

Should young people who cannot find work be forced to take part in community schemes in order to receive government benefits? Or should the Government be doing more to provide actual employment opportunities for all Australians?

Written by Debbie McTaggart