New measures to support vulnerable young people into employment outlined in this week’s Federal Budget are welcome, but a lack of an overarching strategy to tackle poverty and disadvantage will do little to assist vulnerable people, says Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards.
“We are pleased that new initiatives in the Youth Employment Strategy will serve to improve employment outcomes for young people, such as those disengaged from work and study,” says Ms Edwards.
“Jesuit Social Services currently provides mental health support, intensive case management, education programs and work opportunities through our social enterprises for highly vulnerable young people and sees the positive outcomes that can be achieved with sustained encouragement, support and training, as well as assistance to address issues such as homelessness.
“With more than 580,000 young Australians underemployed or unemployed, this is a step in the right direction.”
However, the same group assisted by this initiative will also be negatively impacted by a reform that will make young unemployed people under the age of 25 wait for four weeks to receive income support.
“This is counter-productive as it will force vulnerable young people into poverty and homelessness right when they most need support to manage the costs of job seeking and maintaining their housing.”
Ms Edwards also welcomed the 12-month rollover of $300 million of funding to continue hundreds of mental health services, but says it is concerning that the future of these services remain unclear beyond next June.
“Recent research showed that while most OECD countries spend between 12 and 16 per cent of their health budget on mental health services, Australia spends just 8 per cent,” she says.
“We were also disappointed in general cuts to critical universal services in education and health, and that the budget lacks strategies to address rising homelessness, and family violence.
“Ultimately, this Budget falls short of the investments needed to truly assist vulnerable groups.”