More than 200,000 Australians aged over 50 are receiving Newstart Allowance, according to figures provided to the Australian Greens through Senate Estimates.
"There has been an increase of 24,000 in the number of people aged over 50 receiving Newstart Allowance in the past year," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.
"The Federal Government's response to this growth is to subject older job seekers to tough activity requirements, with the threat that if they don't comply, they will face cuts to their payments.
"There are now more than 200,000 older job seekers living on Newstart. That number has increased by 45% since 2010.
"Too many people are being forced to live below the poverty line on inadequate levels of income support in the years leading up to retirement. By failing to provide the quality services needed, older job seekers are being put at risk of spending a long time out of work and living in poverty, which has long term consequences for health, mental health and well being.
"This problem will only worsen as the retirement age is pushed out and as changes to our workforce sees industries like manufacturing continue to wind down. Clearly the Government does not understand the reality of the current labour market, including key issues like age discrimination, which is a significant barrier for older job seekers looking to get back into work.
"Rather than making important investments in personalised support for job seekers, the Government's response is to subject people to tougher activity tests.
"There are not enough opportunities being provided to older Australians to find work or get the re-training or skills boost they need. The inclusion of the wage subsidies announced in the budget do not go far enough to address the serious barriers to employment that older job seekers face, and nor do tough requirements to maintain access to Newstart.
"Rather than making older job seekers jump through hoops, the Government should be investing in measures to address and reduce age discrimination. More must be done to ensure suitable opportunities for training and employment are provided to help job seekers find opportunities to re-enter the work force and remain engaged in the community," Senator Siewert concluded.