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Effective, equal support needed for older jobseekers

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 18 Nov 2014

The Australian Greens said today that the Government needs to work to address possible flaws in its Restart program and expand its approach to genuinely help older jobseekers into work.

"There are more than 204,000 older Australians on Newstart, meaning they are living below the poverty line for extended periods of time. Living in poverty erodes a person's capacity to work and had long term health and mental health impacts," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.

"Helping 450 people into work is a start, but compared to the overall number of unemployed older Australians, there is still a long way to go. In this context, it is concerning to see that the Government's broad social security agenda involves tougher activity tests and compliance measures for older jobseekers, when clearly they should be focusing on measures to help people re-train and build new skills, as well as addressing significant employment barriers such as age discrimination.

"Effective wage subsidy schemes such as Restart need to be part of a genuine approach to helping older people into work, but the Government needs to pay close attention to the feedback coming from employers and providers about their Restart program, as well as work with the community organisations who support jobseekers on a daily basis," said Senator Siewert.

Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens spokesperson for women, said the Abbott Government needed to ensure gender equality in wage subsidy programs.

"The new figures showing the programs benefit men more than women need to be addressed, especially given the G20 agreement to decrease the gender gap in workforce participation.

"Older women are one of the most disadvantaged groups in our society, with far fewer assets than older men and much lower or no superannuation, and many face homelessness. Instead of simply talking about decreasing the gender gap in workforce participation, the Abbott Government needs to actually do something.

"Ensuring that these programs are not skewed toward men would be a first step and the Abbott Government should also abandon its plans to water down requirements for employers to report on the gender equality of their workforce," Senator Waters said.


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