The Federal Government’s Employment White Paper presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver fundamental changes to ensure all people living and working in Australia can flourish. In our public submission to inform the White Paper which the Government is in the process of drafting we articulate over 10 recommendations.
In September 2022 the Federal Government brought together unions, employers, civil society and government to understand and address shared economic challenges in its Jobs and Skills Summit.
A key output of this Summit will be the Employment White Paper: a landmark policy paper that will guide the future of Australia’s skills and labour market, which Jesuit Social Services believes presents a unique opportunity for significant social policy reform.
The White Paper, which will be released in late 2023, aims to improve living standards, strengthen and expand the workforce, create more opportunities and build a stronger economy.
Jesuit Social Services contributed a written submission to the White Paper’s public consultation process, which is grounded in our 45 years of supporting people experiencing disadvantage and barriers to participation in the economy and civic life. Our submission called on the Government to address the structural barriers to participation that many people face, including the complex and overlapping factors of disadvantage that persist where they live.
Jesuit Social Services’ submission provides a clear framework for reform which strives to ensure no person living in Australia is left behind. Across 10 recommendations, our submission calls on the Federal Government to ensure people are supported to reach their full potential.
Our submission is broad in ambition, yet grounded in practical detail, gained from first-hand experience from 45 years supporting people to build capacity to overcome structural and locational barriers to training, employment, and civic participation.
We call on the Government to address the structural barriers that many people face to participation, including the complex and interconnected factors of entrenched disadvantage that recur where they live; and ensure specialised pathways into employment for young people, people from refugee and migrant backgrounds, and women and people of other marginalised genders, in an equitable and person-centred employment system.
We express our concern that the short consultation period to inform the White Paper left limited time for organisations, community and those with lived experience of protracted unemployment or disadvantage to prepare a response. To most effectively address barriers, foster pathways to employment, and effect long-term positive change, we must listen to and be led by communities who are most affected.
Our submission makes 10 recommendations, calling on the Federal Government to:
- Increase the base rate of JobSeeker and related payments to at least $70 per day and expand eligibility to people on bridging visas and other temporary visa holders.
- Extend safety nets that accompany JobSeeker such as healthcare cards and rent assistance for a period of time after a person has gained employment.
- Develop a Social Inclusion Fund and an accompanying Social Inclusion Strategy to address generational disadvantage and to create new opportunities for access to employment, particularly in areas of high disadvantage.
- Create pathways to good jobs in clean energy, land care and management, and other regenerative and sustainable industries.
- Develop a Youth Job Guarantee that would ensure all young people are supported into secure employment, education or training that is aligned with their interests and goals, within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.
- Invest in and call on public service agencies and corporate organisations to consider shared social impact initiatives to support under and unemployed skilled professionals from migrant and refugee backgrounds into employment, such as the Corporate Diversity Partnerships program.
- Streamline the recognition of overseas qualifications and access to training to meet Australian licensing and accreditation requirements.
- Develop an Australian employment service that is person-centred, voluntary, that has no role in welfare compliance, that prioritises intensive, flexible and individualised support for disadvantaged people seeking work, and that is delivered by community sector and not-for-profit organisations with their unemployed participants’ wellbeing and success as their core purpose.
- Implement a Federal Social Procurement Policy that includes clear and ambitious targets for creating meaningful employment opportunities for people experiencing disadvantage and addresses cultural issues related to the safety of women and other minority groups in male-dominated industries.
- Offer service providers and members of the community, particularly those with lived experience of persistent disadvantage and unemployment, additional opportunities to inform the White Paper.