At Jesuit Social Services, we believe all persons must have access to the opportunities that help them flourish. Fundamental to this is the role of education, lifelong learning and employment.

We know that when people are able to fully access education, training and employment, this has significant benefits for their own wellbeing, their family’s wellbeing and the wellbeing of communities.

Unfortunately, many individuals and communities are missing out on access to these opportunities due to generational and multi-layered disadvantage.

Jesuit Social Services’ Dropping off the Edge 2021 report gathered data on 37 indicators of disadvantage in every single community across the country and found that low levels of internet access and students dropping out before completing Year 10 were prevalent in areas of high disadvantage.

When we focus specifically on locations in both Victoria and NSW that have extreme disadvantage on at least eight different indicators, we find high numbers of children growing up in a household with no adult in paid work and high numbers of young people not engaged with education, employment or training. In fact, in the three per cent most disadvantaged locations in both states, we found children growing up in jobless households at almost triple the rate of the rest of the state, and young people not engaged in education or employment at over double the rate. 

Jesuit Social Services is deeply concerned that a number of communities across the country are caught in a complex web of disadvantage, bearing the brunt of poor policy and the absence of necessary supports.

Poverty and complex disadvantage pose significant barriers to gaining work for current and future generations; and children in disadvantaged families are more likely to experience disrupted education, with lasting impacts on their employment prospects.  

What should be done?

In supporting people to reach their full potential we must address the structural barriers to participation that many people face. Jesuit Social Services’ recent submission to the Federal Government’s Employment White Paper called for the government to act decisively to:  

  • Commit to a Living Wage for all Australians above the current subsistence level of welfare payments and expand eligibility.  
  • Address the persistent and intergenerational disadvantage and unemployment that is experienced by individuals and families in many areas around Australia by developing a Social Inclusion Fund and accompanying Strategy.  
  • Commit to full access to employment and employment opportunities to ensure no one is left behind.  
  • Create pathways to good jobs in clean energy, land care and management, and other regenerative and sustainable industries 
  • Guarantee opportunities for young people leaving school to access education, training and employment so they don’t get left behind and/or fall further behind.  
  • Fully utilise the skills of people who come to Australia through skilled migration programs or as refugees.  
  • Establish a people centred and voluntary employment service system, delivered by the community and not-for-profit sector.  
  • 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 

With these changes in place, we believe individuals, families and entire communities will flourish.